[Both 1984 and Little Malcolm] have something to tell us about the dangers of totalitarianism and the perils of revolt alike. The appearance of John Hurt in both films underscores the imbrication of themes and ideas, with Hurt skillfully conveying behavior and emotions across a spectrum of personal resistance to power—both imagined and real.
The scrupulous avoidance of high-tech décor, and the optimistic future-think that goes with it, was specifically demanded by Sonia Orwell, the author’s widow. The deliberately seedy, worn look of the sets and locations is continually fascinating.
The film itself is suitably nightmarish, a nightmare of endless defeat captured brilliantly by Roger Deakins' washed out cinematography and the beaten-down feel of its production design, impressively mirrored on the faces and bodies of its cast, who look perpetually malnourished and unhealthy. Especially Richard Burton.