Winston Smith’s relationship with Julia (no last name) is among the most satisfying moments in George Orwell’s 1984. It’s an interlude of romantic entanglement that begins a lustful relationship ending in pain and utter defeat. Leaving the dust of London for a safe place in the country, Winston and Julia expect to evade observation of telescreens and microphones, relax, and make love. It’s all for lust.
The picnic takes place the day after May Day, in a forest filled with bluebells, cooing of doves, and whistling thrushes. By way of conversation, Winston says, “I’m thirty-nine years old. I’ve got a wife that I can’t get rid of. I’ve got varicose veins. I’ve got five false teeth.” The girl responds, “I couldn’t care less.” It never occurs to Winston to bring food, but Julia shares some dark, shiny, tasty chocolate. “The first fragment of chocolate had melted on Winston’s tongue. The taste was delightful.” Their sex is more animal than loving. The picnic’s happiness is illusory—Smith and Julia are being observed by Big Brother and his secret police force, after all.
Michael Radford’s film adaptation was released in 1984 to coincide with the anniversary of Orwell’s title. The screenplay preserves the novel’s grim reality, but the country’s picnic scene doesn’t have the wonderful carpet of English bluebells. The cast includes Richard Burton, John Hurt, and Suzanna Hamilton. A free adaption by director Michael Anderson, with a screenplay by William Templeton and Ralph Bettinson was released in 1956.
Featured Image: Michael Radford. Nineteen-Eighty-Four (1984). Screenplay by Michael Radford is based on George Orwell’s novel (1949). Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios, Inc. Winston Smith (John Hurt) and Julia (Susanna Hamilton) meet in the country for a picnic.
See George Orwell. Nineteen Eighty-Four. London: Secker and Warburg, 1948.