On April 4, 1984, the fictional hero of George Orwell’s classic novel 1984 begins the taboo practice of keeping a diary. “Down with Big Brother,” Winston Smith writes over and over.
On April 4, 2017, to commemorate the first day of Winston’s rebellion, art house theaters across the US will coordinate screenings of the 1980s movie adaptation of the book. The film stars John Hurt and Richard Burton.
“The endeavor encourages theaters to take a stand for our most basic values: freedom of speech, respect for our fellow human beings, and the simple truth that there are no such things as ‘alternative facts,'” the organizers, who call themselves the United State of Cinema, write on their site.
In the last month, the 1949 dystopian classic has become a bestseller again in the US, primarily for its association with the defense of “alternative facts” in the current era by Kellyanne Conway, adviser to US president Donald Trump. The novel’s totalitarian government employs a similar strategy, systematically erasing history by presenting completely different facts and events. In 1984 this leads to ”double speak,” where citizens hold two conflicting facts in their minds simultaneously, and wind up lazily accepting what they’re told. The parallel to the current US president, who has attacked free press and called the media ”the enemy of the American people,” has resonated with a substantial number of readers.
At time of writing, 123 theaters in 39 American states, and three in Canada, are planning to screen the film.