If there’s a more vital text than Orwell’s 62-year-old masterpiece, then I don’t know what it is. If you have a passing interest in dystopia, pop culture or just the western world, it’s an essential read. But with a text so well constructed and so endlessly aped, the idea of an adaptation into a graphic novel could beg the question of whether this approach could illustrate anything we haven’t already read in the original.
The answer: a definitive yes. Matyáš Namai’s fantastic images bring a dreadful immediacy to Orwell’s words. Rendered in black and white with flashes of lipstick, jam and the inevitable blood (Namai allows only red to be smeared across his packed pages), the beauty of the naked form – so unwelcome in Orwell’s world – is countered by the violence of thought and words: there’s no way of hiding from these images and no way of ignoring the truth in what you see. When reading words, the mind sometimes hides from the image, like Winston’s convictions fleeing in fear from the Thought Police.
In the end, of course, in Room 101, there really is nowhere to hide. As long as 1984 is forever relevant, adaptations will be always necessary.
George Orwell’s 1984: The Graphic Novel, Matyáš Namai (Palazzo)
Price: £16.99. Info: here
words JOHN-PAUL DAVIES
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