Brave New World is a 1998 made-for-TV film loosely based on Aldous Huxley's novel Brave New World. The film stars Peter Gallagher and Leonard Nimoy. It is an abridged version of the original story.
The film takes Aldous Huxley's dystopian novel of the same name and "modernizes" it, setting it in a large metropolitan area much like the cities of today, albeit a bit cleaner, brighter and crime and poverty free. The plot centers on Bernard Marx, a high-level "Alpha" executive at the Department of Hatcheries and Conditioning, and on his relationship with Lenina Crowne, a schoolteacher who is responsible for educating the children grown within the building — a dual role, for as well as teaching them out of textbooks, she is also in charge of the sleep-teaching machines that condition the children at night. Marx and Lenina have been seeing each other almost exclusively for a number of months, a practice that is beginning to attract unwanted attention from some in the strictly polygamous society. On top of this, Marx is increasingly coming under scrutiny by his boss (the Director of Hatcheries and Conditioning) for his wild theories on human psychology and mind control.
The couple vacation at a Savage Reservation, which is dirty, poor and rustic in contrast to the pristine city that Marx and Lenina hail from. Their helicopter crashes, and the couple is rescued from the clutches of a gang of thugs by a young man named John Cooper, who turns out to be the son of a Savage woman and an unidentified Alpha man who once worked at the reservation. Marx invites the Savage and his mother Linda to visit "civilization," so that he may study John's mind and perhaps gain some insight into why the conditioning programs at the DHC seem to be failing.
John is initially excited by the wonders of civilization, but soon finds it dull and boring without the availability of literature, philosophy, free thinking and especially Shakespeare (he has committed most of the plays to memory). The populace constantly hounds him, seeing him as a new celebrity ready made for popular consumption; his story spawns a feature film and even his own clothing trend. Marx gains the notice of World Controller Mustapha Mond and moves up the ladder, while Lenina finds herself having strong feelings for John and even stronger ones for Bernard. Meanwhile, the DHC, who turns out to be John's natural father, erases his name from the Reservation database and programs a wayward Delta assembly line worker to kill Marx, knowing that if Marx identifies him as a parent, the consequences could be dire (the practice of conceiving children through sex is anathema in the Brave New World: all children are created in "hatcheries" through in vitro fertilization and "decanted" from artificial life support machines).
Linda’s constant use of a hallucinogenic drug called soma finally proves fatal, causing John to snap and rampage through a drug distribution center. The plot on Marx's life fails, and the DHC is exposed as the father of a Savage, leading to his dismissal and reengineering as a menial laborer. Mond, who also reads Shakespeare, promotes Marx to DHC and pardons John. Seeking to escape the constant pressure, John flees to the countryside, is cornered relentlessly by the press, and is run off of a cliff. In the end, it is revealed that Lenina is pregnant with Marx's child.
The couple, Bernard Marx and Lenina Crowne, take the long tunnel to a coastal area, shown in the final scene of the film, and become a family there.
Deviations from novel
The film contains several alterations to the plot of the novel, some that deviate widely from Huxley’s original ideas. These include:
- Caste system- The movie leaves out both the Epsilon caste (the lowest of the five classes) and the plus/minus distinctions within members of a certain caste that denote intelligence and ability within the caste. The major physical and mental differences between members of the "working" (Gamma/Delta) and "thinking" (Alpha/Beta) castes are not explored in any great detail. In the novel, the lower castes are depicted as almost subhuman, being significantly shorter in stature and unable to communicate in anything but the most basic English (although they can understand commands well enough to perform menial labor), the movie, however, depicts Gammas/Deltas as physically near-equal to Alphas and Betas and competent enough to formulate their own conjectures on life and the nature of the universe. For obvious casting reasons, the underground factory portrayed in the movie is staffed by dozens of unique Delta workers, while in the book it is assumed that all workers on an assembly line would be "Bokanovsky groups" of identical twins.
- References to genetic engineering (the novel was written before the discovery of DNA) are out of place, as the book makes no mention of genetics. On the subject of mind control, it is surmised that a citizen can have his memory and prior conditioning erased and a new identity fashioned from scratch, the old Director of Hatcheries and Conditioning (DHC), for example, is reengineered and appears as a waiter during the closing minutes of the film. In the book, the idea of a person being “demoted” to a different caste is impossible because of the basic physical and mental deficiencies in those lower-class citizens that separate them from the higher-ups even before birth.
- Linda Cooper is portrayed as a savage who was seduced by a member of the outside world, rather than a Beta worker abandoned at the Reservation. The family is given the last name "Cooper" while in the book they were simply referred to as "Savage." The Malpais Reservation itself is modeled more closely after a modern slum or trailer park than the tribal, primitive society mentioned in the book. In the book, Bernard Marx and Lenina are immediately able to tell John and Linda apart from the savages because of skin color, while in the movie John must explain his family history to Bernard and Lenina.
- The addition of a Delta who was conditioned by the DHC to kill Bernard Marx is somewhat out of synch with Huxley's original ideas, as Deltas would be considered too stupid, weak or incompetent to perform assassination missions (and, more pragmatically, would be unable to access Marx's building.), not to mention the fact that concepts like murder were practically unheard of in the novel, and go against much of the philosophies of the World State.
- John the Savage falls off a cliff while being pursued by the paparazzi. In the novel, he commits suicide after a night of orgiastic partying.
- Mond promotes Marx to the job of DHC (after the previous one was fired), which he resigns when Lenina becomes pregnant with his child, in the book Marx is exiled to a community where other free-thinkers live in peace. They do not return to the reservation.
- Major characters left out of the movie include Helmholtz Watson (a close friend of Marx who shares his radical ideas) and Henry Foster (the man who Lenina is seeing at the beginning of the novel as opposed to Marx). Lenina is not a teacher in the book, but rather a worker involved in the growing of the new babies.