Animal Farm (1954)

I first saw this movie during one of those sponsored film showings of British Council at New Manila. This was several years ago. British Council used to send out monthly newsltetter detailing the cultural events for the month. During that the Council sponsored several screening of classic British films - including Kind Hearts and Coronets. It was to be years and years later till I was able to see Kind Hearts and Coronets again and it would be years, years, and years later that I would be able to watch again Animal Farm.

Animal Farm is a tale about how a group of farm animals overthrow their oppresive human owner and try to build an egalitarian animal state. As the story progresses we see how this vision of animal utopia is twisted and betrayed in very familiar ways. Orwell’s fable is also a satire on revolutions and the romantic notions with it.

The film was released in 1954. It holds the distinction of being one of the first film adaptation of George Orwell’s Animal Farm. The film holds the distinction of being the first full length animation film made in the UK. What is amazing is that this is supposedly a film that was financed by the Central Intelligence Agency. These were the early years of the Cold War. It is said that CIA was able to convince was able to buy the film rights to Animal Farm from Orwell’s widow Sonia. The CIA even arranged a meeting with Sonia and American actor Clark Gable, Sonia was a fan of the actor, in order to secure the film rights.

The achilles heel of this adaptation was its departure from Orwell’s fable. Some say it was because the CIA insisted on doing some changes to deliver their anti-Communist message and there are some that say that the changes were done to give the film a more wider appeal.

Still, the best adaptation of this book will be that adaptation that stays faithful to this book.

If you ever decide to watch this film or any film adaptation of Animal Farm pleas please please read the book first. You will not regret it.

The book is full of lines that have achieved iconic status.

Like this one:


But look out for and intellectually ruminate on this paragraph:

Twelve voices were shouting in anger … it was impossible to say which was which.

This is how any film adaptation of this fable should end.

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