A prosaic filmization of George Orwell's cautionary novel, 1984 is set in a futuristic totalitarian society where individuality is forbidden. The ruler is the never-seen "Big Brother", whose minions have monitored and bugged the activities of the populace so that no one can harbor any "subversive" thoughts. Edmond O'Brien plays Winston Smith, a government functionary satisfied with his lot, until he commits the illegal act of falling in love with Julia (Jan Sterling), a member of the anti-sex league. The lovers try to escape the all-powerful influence of Big Brother, but their every move is recorded by listening and viewing devices. Both are captured and sent to rehabilitation centers; preying upon Winston's and Julia's innermost fears, the lieutenants of Big Brother break down their resistance and force them to betray one another.