When George Orwell Wrote Animal Farm it was from an almost unique stand-point. The allegorical tale, a children’s story with a definite dark side, showed the leaders of Russia and its revolution as pigs, but not just that, they are so corrupt they turn into humans. This was certainly a controversial representation for a socialist to take at a time when many on the British left were firm supporters of what they viewed as a worker’s revolution and country.
There has already been one big screen version of the story made, a cartoon animation that, whilst it is regarded quite highly as a contribution to British cinema, has a large failing. Funding for the film came from the US government, though this was not widely known at the time, and this has been seen by some as the explanation for the film’s ending, in which the other animals rise up against the pigs.
So it would seem anyone taking on the story would be wise to take a look at Orwell’s approach. He leaves his characters in a kind of limbo, we have discovered that the pigs have changed so much they are indistinguishable from humans, that in Russia the Communist elite are in fact just the same as the capitalists they ousted. What Orwell does not attempt to do is predict the future, he just offers this bald, frightening vision of reality.
This film version, must have faced a problem both with how to end the story and with choosing whether to make a children’s film that could appeal to adults, or a film for adults that just took the form of a children’s tale, in the spirit of the book.
Certainly the film is well made, the production values are high, it is well shot and the cast, both those providing voices for the animals and those actually appearing on screen are excellent. It says something that a film featuring the voices of Kelsey Grammer, Paul Schofield, Patrick Stewart and even Peter Ustinov, together with both the vocal and on-screen skills of Pete Postlewaite, can have made so little impression at the box office. The first and maybe lesser reason for this is the uncertain tone of the film, it uses puppets created by the Henson workshop together with Babe style live action blended with CGI, creating a visual feel much more along the lines of a kid’s film, and yet with the script that all comes unstuck. There is even a sex scene, with Jones the farmer slipping beneath the cover with his neighbour’s wife.
Perhaps the key fault is that satire just can’t be revived, it serves its purpose, but once that is forgotten it is just another bit of history. With Animal Farm it is possible to see the importance of what Orwell wrote, but the immediacy is lost, transfer it to film and it is even further removed from what makes it relevant. This might have been the motivation behind the screenwriters’ disastrous decision to create a new ending for the film. A writer who had a grasp of satire, political vision and a healthy level of cynicism could perhaps of come up with an ending that equalled Orwell’s.
At the end of this version we are told that the farm has found new, human, owners and we are shown a family, all blue eyes and blond hair smiling as they drive up to the house in an open topped car. Would the man who wrote the original with its dark uncertain ending have come up with this alternative of an all American happy ever after? Of course not.
2 of 2 people found this review helpful.
Made in 1955, 'Animal Farm' was the first full-length animated feature film to be made in Britain in colour. This timeless story tells the tale of the animals of Manor Farm who, fed up with Farmer Jones' abuse, revolt and take over the farm. Led by the two most intelligent pigs, Snowball and Napoleon, the animals work hard to make their farm a place of equality, honour and prosperity.
Ironically, Napoleon's greed for power and authority result in the injustice and cruelty they fought to abolish being inflicted on them once again. George Orwell's allegorical tale not only has a moral message but draws its parallels with political oppression and the rise of Communism.
Wonderful animation, superb characterisation and brilliant voices created by Maurice Denham all contribute to Orwell's celebrated masterpiece.
5 of 11 people found this review helpful.
not as good as the animated version
ok, have a look at the original 1954 animation by Bachelor and Halas, excellent.
Britain's first animated feature, an adaptation of George Orwell's classic satire on Stalinism, with the animals taking over their farm by means of a revolutionary coup, but then discovering that although all animals are supposed to be equal, some are more equal than others.
My kids loved it they are now Marxist revolutionaries, joke!
The version I have has a film after about cars taking over the world narrated by that time team geezer Baldrick, hasn't quite worked out as portrayed still give em time.
I really like Animal Farm because I love animals, I'm not so keen on the political side of it, but that is part of the film, so if you enjoy the film as do I then you just put up with it, it's just part of the film, anyway that's my opinion, and I hope it's alright, anyway thanks for the film.
0 of 1 people found this review helpful.
Animal Farm (DVD 2002)
I had read the book by Orwell and came upon this DVD by chance. Once I knew of its existence, I just had to have it! I have not been disappointed, although there are parts which do stray from the original! In some ways the DVD presented a much more believable storyline than the book...I could never imagine pigs walking on their back legs!
I like the fact that I could sit and watch this with all my children ages ranging from 2 to 17 and each of us had something we could enjoy.For the younger ones it was just like watching Babe but with more sadness. For the older ones the allegorical message was much more obvious and understandable. We had plenty to talk about. It was good to be sharing something so profound with them. A good choice.