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Moderate Pleasures in Brave New World;
By: HOWARD ROSENBERG
Anti-utopian themes are so pronounced in literature that even the three best-known novels on that topicEugene Zamiatins We, George Orwells 1984" and Aldous Huxleys Brave New Worldhave become somewhat obscured in this thick fog of foreboding stories about tomorrows societies that see individual freedom and happiness as incompatible. First published in 1932, Brave New World is the rosiest of this trio, with the mid-21st century foreseen by Huxley offering a much more benign hell, for example, than the totalitarian superstate depicted in Orwells subsequent 1984. And hence a kinder environment for NBCs new rendering of Brave New World, a likable enough movie if you approach it with limited expectations, yet one whose moderate pleasures do not include anything youre likely to chew on or hash over afterward. God has been supplanted by pseudo science and technology in the sterile, regimented utopia designed by Huxley. Residents are defined, from Alpha to Delta, according to their lab-bred abilities. Controlled by a tasty happy drug known as Soma, they get what they want, and never want what they dont get. Theres no crime, disease, fear or pain. State-run hatcheries have replaced antique concepts of parents, marriage and family, and promiscuity is a citizens dutypresenting ample opportunities for flesh that this movie cheerfully exploits.
In other words, what you get in this brave new world is a colorized Night of the Living Dead with orgasms.
Not every flame is out, however. Unextinguished are Bernard Marx (Peter Gallagher) and Lenina Crowne (Rya Kihlstedt), a pair of Alpha lovers whose mutual affection is edging perilously toward commitment. And more trouble looms after their visit to the outback of this society, where they meet a young Shakespearean (Timothy Guinee) living on a reservation of savages, anti-utopians who do not conform with the ways of civilization.
The savages subsequent encounters with civilization and its benevolent despot, Mustapha Mond (Leonard Nimoy), and director of hatcheries and conditioning (Miguel Ferrer), establish a moral crossroads for the rest of the story.
Directors Leslie Libman and Larry Williams let the pace slow to a tedious crawl at times. The teleplay by Dan Mazur and David Tausik throws in a TV-style upbeat ending, and tries to make this story more relatable by slipping in such familiarities as Read my lips and Politics is the art of the possible. In addition, news crews stalk and chase the poor savage as if he were Monica Lewinsky, but with gear that is hopelessly outdated for such a futuristic society.
Again, its watchable, but nothing brave, new or worldly. *
* Brave New World airs at 9 p.m. Sunday on NBC (Channel 4). The network has rated it TV-14 (may be unsuitable for children under the age of 14).
Type of Material: Television Program Review
Copyright (c) 1998 Times Mirror Company