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

Contactmusic 2017 Exclusive

New Movies

Patriots Day Movie Review

Patriots Day Movie Review

The third time's a charm for Mark Wahlberg and director Peter Berg, who previously teamed...

A Cure for Wellness Movie Review

A Cure for Wellness Movie Review

It's no surprise that this creep-out horror thriller is packed with whizzy visual invention, since...

It's Only the End of the World Movie Review

It's Only the End of the World Movie Review

At just 27 years old, Canadian filmmaker Xavier Dolan has an almost overwhelming set of...

Hidden Figures Movie Review

Hidden Figures Movie Review

This film recounts such a great true story that we don't mind the fact that...

The Founder Movie Review

The Founder Movie Review

This is the story of Ray Kroc, the man who created the concept of McDonald's....

John Wick: Chapter 2 Movie Review

John Wick: Chapter 2 Movie Review

Keanu Reeves picks up his supremely efficient hitman immediately where the 2015 original left him:...

Fences Movie Review

Fences Movie Review

After winning Tony Awards on Broadway, Denzel Washington and Viola Davis reteam for a film...

Advertisement
The Lego Batman Movie Movie Review

The Lego Batman Movie Movie Review

A spin-off from 2014's awesome The Lego Movie, this raucously paced action-comedy is proof that...

The Space Between Us Movie Review

The Space Between Us Movie Review

While the premise of this movie makes it look like a sci-fi adventure, the truth...

Toni Erdmann Movie Review

Toni Erdmann Movie Review

On paper, the idea of a two-hour 40-minute German comedy may not seem very promising,...

Gold Movie Review

Gold Movie Review

Based on a true story, this lively and sometimes outrageous adventure is packed with twists...

Loving Movie Review

Loving Movie Review

While this film tackles a huge issue in the history of race relations in America,...

T2 Trainspotting Movie Review

T2 Trainspotting Movie Review

It's been 20 years since we last saw four freewheeling young junkies from Edinburgh spiral...

Hacksaw Ridge Movie Review

Hacksaw Ridge Movie Review

Based on an astounding true story, this battlefield drama mixes warm emotion with intense action...

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.