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Why The LEGO Movie is the new Nineteen Eighty-Four
There are surprising parallels between George Orwell's dystopian novel and the new children's comedy
Orwell would approve.
Orwell would approve. (Facebook.com/The LEGO Movie)
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n omnipotent dictator controls the whereabouts and movements of the citizenry. Surveillance cameras constantly monitor the public. Words and songs chosen by the government keep the masses pacified.

Yes, I'm describing George Orwell's classic novel Nineteen Eighty-Four — but I'm also describing The LEGO Movie, which hits theaters today. You probably wouldn't expect to see much in common between a dark, dystopian vision of the future and a children's movie based on a popular toy line. But let me lay out the evidence, and see if you agree (minor spoilers for both Orwell's novel and The LEGO Movie to follow):

Nineteen Eighty-Four: "Big Brother seemed to tower up, an invincible fearless protector, standing like a rock against the hordes of Asia…"

The LEGO Movie: Lord Business (voiced by Will Ferrell) is the omnipotent leader of the LEGO world, whose absolute hatred of chaos led him to seek power. He ultimately aims to freeze the world and prevent anyone or anything from changing.

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Nineteen Eighty-Four: "It was a refrain that was often heard in moments of overwhelming emotion. Partly it was a sort of hymn to the wisdom and majesty of Big Brother, but still more it was an act of self-hypnosis, a deliberate drowning of consciousness by means of rhythmic noise."

The LEGO Movie: That "drowning of consciousness" exists in the uniformity of each person's actions in LEGO land. From the shows the citizens watch to the songs they sing to the coffee they consume, the people are pushed to lead bland and monotonous lives.

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Nineteen Eighty-Four: "People simply disappeared, always during the night. Your name was removed from the registers, every record of everything you had ever done was wiped out, your one-time existence was denied and then forgotten."

The LEGO Movie: When people question the leader, they are frozen in place or disappear, never to be seen again.

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Nineteen Eighty-Four: "There was a whole chain of separate departments dealing with proletarian literature, music, drama and entertainment generally. Here were produced rubbishy newspapers containing almost nothing except sport, crime and astrology, sensational five-cent novelettes, films oozing with sex, and sentimental songs which were composed entirely by mechanical means…"

The LEGO Movie: Lord Business and his minions mass-produce entertainment shows, including the nation's biggest television hit, "Where Are My Pants?" The show — as with other, similar programs — was created to keep the citizens stilted and pacified and succeeds in doing so.

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Nineteen Eighty-Four: "You did not have friends nowadays, you had comrades; but there were some comrades whose society was pleasanter than that of others."

The LEGO Movie: When the main character Emmet (voiced by Chris Pratt) goes missing, his "friends" are interviewed on television about him and none of them know anything important about him. He simply exists as another face in the crowd, rather than a unique person with friends and family members who love him.

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Nineteen Eighty-Four: "The new tune which was to be the theme song of Hate Week ('The Hate Song,' it was called) had already been composed and was being endlessly plugged on the telescreens."

The LEGO Movie: There's no song of hate in the film, but there is a song dedicated to how blandly happy everyone's lives are. As the film begins, "Everything is Awesome" is sung by thousands of LEGO characters, who are instructed to sing along for the next five hours.

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Nineteen Eighty-Four: "One did not know what happened inside the Ministry of Love, but it was possible to guess: tortures, drugs, delicate instruments that registered your nervous reactions…"

The LEGO Movie: When people — including the main character — question authority, they are brought into a quiet room, interrogated, and even tortured into submission. (Don't worry, parents — it's mostly off-screen.)

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Nineteen Eighty-Four: "A Party member lives from birth to death under the eye of the Thought Police. Even when he is alone he can never be sure that he is alone."

The LEGO Movie: The LEGO characters all live under constant surveillance and can never escape being watched by the police and their overlords. In fact, if they ever go against the routine, they are punished for their rebellious behavior.

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Nineteen Eighty-Four: "'We [the government] have cut the links between child and parent, and between man and man, and between man and woman.'"

The LEGO Movie: In one of the movie's most unexpectedly devastating scenes, a LEGO police officer — who serves as both a good cop and a bad cop — is pushed to cut ties between himself and his family. After being brainwashed, he is forced to torture his parents to prove his loyalty to the government.

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A film about the world of LEGO blocks might not sound like the most promising material for a thought-provoking animated feature, but The LEGO Movie defies expectation by brilliantly capturing and reinventing the world of George Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four for a whole new generation.

John Hanlon is a contributing editor at Townhall Magazine and a freelance film critic. He has written for CNN.com, USAToday.com, Big Hollywood, the Daily Caller and Townhall.com as well as numerous other outlets.

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