The United States of Cinema

George Orwell’s 1984, the dystopian classic about life under a totalitarian regime, is making a comeback. It topped the Amazon bestseller list in January, according to the New York Times. I haven’t read it since high school and I also haven’t seen the John Hurt movie since, well, 1984, when it was released.

Today,  I saw 1984 at the Regent Theatre in Arlington. In the front row. There was a recorded into and Q&A with the director, Michael Radford. Fun fact: The movie was shot in the Spring of 1984 and released in the Fall. Crazy.

I didn’t see it today arbitrarily. April 4 is the date on which Winston Smith begins his forbidden diary in the book. Indeed, that’s why independent cinemas around the country organized to hold the “United States of Cinema” – nearly 200 independent cinemas in 187 US cities, plus a handful in Canada, Europe and Oceania are screening 1984 today.

These theater owners, according to the Regent, “also support the National Endowment for the Arts and see any attempt to scuttle that program as an attack on free speech and creative expression through entertainment. So the event provides a chance for communities around the country to show their unity and have their voices heard.” Part of the proceeds go to charity, in this case, the Arlington Center for the Arts. Double plus good.

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