Though it's a solid translation from text to screen, the 1984 film version of Orwell's 1984 is really only worth seeing for two reasons: John Hurt and Richard Burton.
I say this because nothing in the film is more effective than (or even an impressively-accurate realization of) anything in the book—and much of the best stuff from the book is missing or only hinted at in the film.
In short, if you have interest in the film but you've never read the book, then what the hell is up with that. Seriously, read the book first. I know people say that all the time about movies based on books, but this is Nineteen Frickin' Eighty-Four. I feel so strongly about this that the rest of this review is going to be spoiler-free, which I don't usually bother to worry about.
First off, the things about the movie that were dead-on:
And the major ways the movie didn't quite nail it:
I don't think it's too much of a stretch to say that 1984 is my favorite book. I therefore probably share with many Tolkien fanatics a sense of ambivalence toward the filmed version of our respectively beloved literary works. But you'd have to be a pretty far-gone Tolkien nut to seriously insist that anybody interested in seeing Peter Jackson's films MUST read the books first. Conversely, I do insist that anybody interested in seeing this film MUST read the book first. Otherwise you won't fully understand what people mean when they call things "Orwellian."
Star Score: 3 out of