I finished re-reading Brave New World last weekend, and while I was cautious to do so, I downloaded the 1998 Brave New World television film. I vaguely remember watching this "film" after I first read the novel back during my senior year of high school, and even though I couldn't remember specific scenes, I recall it being poorly made and loosely based on the novel's events. And after re-watching it, I was correct.
Some of my thoughts:
First of all, the characterization in the movie is poorly based off the characters of the novel. For one thing, Bernard Marx in the film is far from his outcast personality of the novel. Without this stigma on his character, the whole plot takes on a different twist. And from th start of the movie, Bernard and Lenina are seeing each other, unlike the Bernard in the novel who pines over a monogamous affair with Lenina.
One of my other big problems is the portrayal of John the Savage. In the novel he is portrayed as being a white boy living amongst "savages" - or Native Americans. However in the movie John is this disgusting-looking guy with tattoos all over his body. And the Savage Reservation is not a Native American pueblo compound, but a trailer park filled with hicks.
Similarly, with the Reservation events, in the novel Lenina is disgusted by everything she sees and hears in the Reservation - but this is not so in the movie. In the movie Lenina is not repulsed by Linda, John's mother. Furthermore, Linda in the movie is not part of the BNW civilization at all. In the book she was taken to the Reservation on a date, got lost, and was left there to suffer by the severe differences between "savage" life and life in civilization.
Civilization in the film is also portrayed as being a glorified consumer-driven United State. But when reading the book, one can't help to instead envision a clean, stable, and sterile environment where order reigns. The movie's society is still based on consumerism, but it appears too lavish and similar to our modern world. And the conditioning used in the movie is very unlike the conditioning portrayed in the novel. In the movie, conditioning is very psychedelic and bizarre, while in the book it is very structured through language and sleep hynopaedia, not through words and images shown on a screen (as in the movie).
The movie also threw many references to terms and lingo used in the book that a viewer who may not have read the book would not understand, given no context was given behind some of the terms thrown out.
And need I mention Leonard Nemoy's ridiculous outfits?
Overall, the movie is a huge flop. But, last week I also discovered a 1980 movie version of Brave New World which is three hours long, and from what I checked out so far, it seems a lot more spot on than the 1998 version. AND, I also heard there may be a new version coming out in the coming years. Surprisingly (or not), Leonardo Dicaprio has his name pegged to it...