Inside Diana Ringo's '1984': "Orwell's Novel Continues To Resonate With Readers Across Generations"
The modern interpretation of classics always sparks interest and discussions. Diana Ringo, a renowned director, presented her latest creative project to the world - an adaptation of George Orwell's famous novel '1984'. Her new film has already become the subject of heated debates and frank reflections on contemporary society, raising important questions about utopia, control, and freedom.
Filmmaker Diana Ringo, a creative force whose prowess extends seamlessly across the realms of filmmaking and music. Her cinematic journey commenced with the riveting Russian-Finnish collaboration, 'Quarantine,' a haunting narrative tracing the psychological turmoil of a man confined within a bunker for two decades post-apocalypse, grappling with the weight of his conscience. Ringo, a maestro in her own right, orchestrated every facet of this compelling tale - from scripting and directing to delivering a mesmerizing performance and crafting the film's evocative soundtrack.
Today, on Indie Boulevard, Diana will share how she perceives this literary masterpiece in a modern context and the challenges she encountered while filming this poignant, at times strange, and provocative movie
Hello Diana, it's a great honor for us to speak with you, and thank you for finding the time to tell us more about yourself and your new project. But before we delve into the topic of film and music, please tell us about your past. You grew up in a family where music and art held great importance. Which childhood memories had the most significant impact on your musical career?
I remember listening to various classical compositions including those by Beethoven, Mozart, Chopin in my early childhood. These early encounters with music's emotional power ignited my passion for the art form. Some of my earliest memories include watching the film "Gone with the Wind", the story and the film score has has never failed to impress me.
Your first teacher, the pianist Dmitry Solovyev, discovered your exceptional ear when you were just five years old. How did this influence your education and your perception of music?
Dmitry Solovyev helped me at a young age to gain mastery of classical piano, giving a solid foundation and shaping my deep connection with music, for which I am very thankful for. If I did not receive the classical piano education I had, I would not be the composer I am today.
You're also a director. Tell us about your experience directing the film "KARAntin." What ideas and inspirations drove this project?
"Quarantine", my feature directorial debut, was a real passion project for me. The film starred Anatoly Bely and Aleksandr Obmanov. It is a dystopian drama telling the story of a man living in a bunker, who is left alone with a guilty conscience. I first had the idea for the screenplay when I was living in Vienna, Austria during lockdown, and wrote the screenplay quickly. I structured the film into three parts, dedicating each part to a character, and chose the film to have a non-linear narrative. I edited the film myself. The film features Anatoly Bely's character Felix reminiscing on his past, remembering conversations with his two friends. The film features scenes shot in Russia, Finland and Ukraine. The film featured events of a pandemic and a resulting war, in a way the film has foretold many of the cataclysmic events which have happened since. "Quarantine" was a significant stepping stone for me that prepared me for the ambitious undertaking of adapting "1984", which has a bigger cast, more shooting days, longer runtime and a large amount of VFX work.
Your film "KARAntin" was presented as the official non-English submission for the Golden Globes in 2022. How did it feel to see your work recognized on the world stage?
The recognition at the Golden Globes was a significant milestone. It was truly rewarding to see "Quarantine" resonate with a global audience and reaffirm my commitment to storytelling. I am very grateful to Kirpi Uimonen from HFPA for her positive feedback of my work.
In 2022, you directed the film "1984," based on George Orwell's novel. Could you share some details about the process of creating this film?
In 2022 I started shooting my film "1984" and now I have finished post-production. The film is available on Amazon Prime VOD starting from 15 November 2023. While "1984" has been one of my favorite books ever since I was a teen, I've always felt that the film adaptations have lacked something and for a long time I have wanted to make my own film based on the novel. When working on my film my inspirations spanned various influences, ranging from directors such as Fritz Lang to Terry Gilliam. I consider it a privilege to have made the film "1984" during this significant year, coinciding with the 120th birth anniversary of George Orwell. Another aspect which has made the adaptation distinctive was the incorporation of elements from Yevgeny Zamyatin's "We," which was the original prototype for Orwell's "1984." By intertwining these two iconic works, I aimed to offer a fresh perspective on Orwell's vision and the thematic underpinnings of his narrative. The film serves as a lens through which we can explore contemporary concerns regarding surveillance, government control, and personal liberty, mirroring the persistent struggle for freedom in our society.
In addition to being the director of the new film, you also play the role of a mysterious woman. Could you tell us more about your role in the film "1984" and the character of this enigmatic woman? How did you prepare for this role?
Having a strong female character in my film was important for me and the character of Julia takes on a more powerful and influential role compared to Orwell's book. I was inspired by the character of I-330 from Zamyatin's "We," who embodies a spirit of revolution and is relentlessly determined to overthrow the oppressive regime. I wanted the female protagonist to be a symbol of resistance against tyrannical rule and a force to be reckoned with. Through this reinterpretation, I aimed to emphasize the resilience of individuals in the face of oppression and portray her as a symbol of hope.
You composed the entire soundtrack for "1984." What musical elements did you use to enhance the atmosphere and emotions in the film?
The film's score blends classical and electronic elements to create an immersive experience that mirrors the story's tension and drama. My DAW of choice is Logic Pro X. Composing for me is always a transcendent experience, where my thoughts and emotions find their voice through the language of music. In several scenes, I relied on minimalistic compositions to underscore the bleakness and conformity of the United State-controlled world. These pieces emphasize the suffocating atmosphere and the absence of individuality. Contrarily, in moments of rebellion and personal awakening, I introduced more complex and emotionally charged musical motifs, signifying the characters' defiance and hope. Meanwhile, electronic sounds added a futuristic, otherworldly quality that underscored the dystopian setting of the film.
"1984" is an adaptation of George Orwell's famous novel. How did you approach the task of bringing this work into the cinematic space?
I chose to cast actor Aleksandr Obmanov in the lead role as he played in my previous film and I felt he brought the right kind of depth and vulnerability to his roles. My goal was to retain the most relevant and timeless features of the book while also making some adjustments as I wished to bridge the gap between Orwell's dystopian vision and the realities of our modern world, while maintaining the core themes of surveillance, manipulation, and the struggle for individuality in the face of oppressive systems. I also wanted to keep the satiric elements of both novels, since I felt these are some of the most underrated qualities of these novels.
Your film "1984" is scheduled for release in 2023. What expectations and hopes do you have for this project?
Orwell's novel continues to resonate with readers across generations all over the world as his story of the perils of totalitarianism and the choices we make regarding the safeguarding of our freedoms remains as pressing today as when he originally penned the novel. I believe that the film will leave a lasting impact, much like the novel it is based on, and encourage viewers to reevaluate the world around them.
With your diverse background in the arts, which aspects of your personality and creativity do you consider the most important in your creative journey?
Being a producer, director and composer gives me a lot of creative freedom in my work. I enjoy doing various jobs on my films, as I also do screenwriting, cinematography, editing, VFX. I consider music to be a fundamental character in my films and I take great care to cut my films to match my film scores, as even a single musical note can change the viewer's perception of the events happening on screen. As an independent filmmaker I am able to tell the stories which I want without self-censorship, which is extremely important for me.
"1984" by DIANA RINGO
is out on AMAZON