Animal Farm (1954)

"Very Good"

Animal Farm (1954) Review


George Orwell's classic fable about repression, revolution, and corruption became a quirky animated mini-classic in 1954, and only recently has the truth about its production become known.

Thank Home Vision Entertainment for bringing the movie back into light and for telling its story -- it's actually more interesting than the movie itself.

The tale goes that in 1954, the CIA was looking for ways to spread anti-Communist propaganda to do its part to fight the Cold War. Animal Farm seemed like a likely property -- its tale of revolt offered a lot of promise for those wanting to encourage revolution... even if the ending didn't quite mesh up with what the spooks were looking for. Never mind: That could be changed. The CIA approached Orwell's widow and finagled the rights (purportedly by granting her a meeting with her idol, Clark Gable). The agency then recruited an animator, who ultimately (and strangely) turned out Britain's first animated feature ever.

The result is Animal Farm, a good-but-not-great attempt at visualizing the classic story of animal revolt on an oppressive farm. For those unfamiliar with it, the story goes as follows: Humans are cruel to the animals on Manor Farm, so they revolt and send the humans packing. The animals take over the farm, with the pigs seizing a leadership role, albeit one ostensibly based on equal rights and freedom. But before long, the pigs realize the humans had it pretty good, and against their own edicts they begin sleeping in human beds and carrying out death sentences on those who cause problems. Their publicly posted laws of Animal Farm subtly change overnight, each time being tweaked just so in order to fit in with the whims of the pigs.

In the book, this all culminates in a war between the rest of the animals and the pigs, who end up joining with the humans, their former adversaries. In the film, it's everyone vs. pigs, and the humans are left out in the cold. The idea, of course, is that the pigs represent the communists of the USSR, who would never seek aid from the Russian royalty they displaced.

Despite its liberties with the material, some crude animation, and the Disneyfication of some of its scenes (namely those involving baby animals causing cute little problems at random intervals), Animal Farm is an enjoyable and instructive film, improved thanks to Orwell's awesome storytelling ability. The CIA meddling, ultimately, matters little. Animal Farm is as interesting on screen as it is behind the veil.



Facts and Figures

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 3.5 / 5

Cast & Crew

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

New Movies

Jackie Movie Review

Jackie Movie Review

Rather than make a standard biopic about the most famous First Lady in American history,...

Split Movie Review

Split Movie Review

After a few badly received sci-fi blockbusters, M. Night Shyamalan returned to his earthier style...

xXx: Return of Xander Cage Movie Review

xXx: Return of Xander Cage Movie Review

It's been 15 years since Vin Diesel walked away from his XXX role, killing off...

Manchester by the Sea Movie Review

Manchester by the Sea Movie Review

This may not be the cheeriest movie of the season, but it's so skilfully written,...

Live By Night Movie Review

Live By Night Movie Review

Ben Affleck launched his directing career 10 years ago with his film of Dennis Lehane's...

La La Land Movie Review

La La Land Movie Review

After storming awards season with Whiplash two years ago, writer-director Damien Chazelle returns with something...

Assassin's Creed Movie Review

Assassin's Creed Movie Review

Hopes were high that this film might finally crack the curse of movies based on...

Advertisement
Silence Movie Review

Silence Movie Review

Faith is a topic Martin Scorsese can't quite shake, courting controversy with complex films like...

A Monster Calls Movie Review

A Monster Calls Movie Review

A difficult movie to market, this isn't actually the BFG-style fantasy adventure it looks like....

Monster Trucks Movie Review

Monster Trucks Movie Review

Word has it that a 4-year-old came up with the idea for this unapologetically silly...

Collateral Beauty Movie Review

Collateral Beauty Movie Review

Dramas exploring the nature of death and the true meaning of life are always in...

Paterson Movie Review

Paterson Movie Review

Unpredictable filmmaker Jim Jarmusch ricochets from his artful vampire movie Only Lovers Left Alive into...

I, Daniel Blake Movie Review

I, Daniel Blake Movie Review

At 80 years old, British filmmaker Ken Loach won his second Cannes Film Festival with...

Why Him? Movie Review

Why Him? Movie Review

Writer-director John Hamburg continues to recycle the formula that made his first hit Meet the...

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.