Animal Farm

Britain’s (and Europe’s) first animated feature film, based on George Orwell’s Novel.

Release Date: 13 February 1956 (Sweden)

Director: Joy Batchelor, John Halas

Writer: George Orwell (based on memorable fable), Lothar Wolff (story)

Cast: Gordon Heath, Maurice Denham

Country: UK

Language: English

Nominations: BAFTA Awards 1956 Nominated for Best Animated Film

Britain’s (and Europe’s) first animated feature film

It is a caustic adaptation of classic satire on Stalinism, with animals taking charge of their farm.

George Orwell had a knack for being able to write engaging fiction that helped the reader see the flaws in certain types of government. One of Orwell’s most famous books is called Animal Farm. The book is so good that twice it has been turned into a movie. The first film version of Animal Farm was released in 1954.

The animated film is a British production that was released internationally. There are several differences between the book and 1954 movie, the biggest being that the movie ends on a far happier note than the book does.

Like the book, the movie Animal Farm starts with the farm animals discussing the harsh life they are forced to endure at the hands of the farm owner. With the encouragement of an elderly pig, Old Major, the animals lead a revolt, overthrowing the humans and taking over the farm for themselves. The animals have a simple plan, now that they are on their own, they will run the farm as equals. They will help one another out, no one animal is better than the others, and they have no leader. The closest thing they have to a leader is Old Major.

In the film, it doesn’t take very long for things to start to unravel. Old Major dies right after the revolt. The death of this elderly pig leaves two young pigs, Snowball and Napoleon vying for the respect that Old Major enjoyed. Napoleon eliminates Snowball. Without any interference, Napoleon quickly assumes leadership over the animals and rules with an iron hoof. The rest of the animals are forced to work hard, just as hard as they worked when humans were running the place, and just like when the humans were in charge, none of the animals except Napoleon’s pigs are reaping the fruits of their labor.

Just because this film is animated, people shouldn’t expect that it is a happy, kid’s movie. Just like the book, the film is dark and satirical. The film is very entertaining and does an excellent job portraying a communist government.

Animal Farm is old; it was made in 1954, long before the special effects and computer graphics of today. Just because Animal Farm is old, doesn’t mean that it isn’t a quality film. If anything, the lack of special effects, allow the viewer to focus on the truly incredible storyline. Each of the characters is very well developed and stays true to form throughout the entire film.

As the author of the original story, George Orwell is given credit as one of the writers; however the novel was adapted into a screenplay by a team of six writers. Animal Farm was directed by John Halas and Joy Bachelor. Every animal voice and sound was provided by the incredibly talented Gordon Heath and Maurice Denhem.

Animal Farm is 80 minutes long and is a color film. The current rating for the film is a U, which stands for universal, meaning that the movie is acceptable for viewers of all ages.


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