Animal Farm (1954)
Directed by Joy Batchelor and John Halas
Starring Gordon Heath and Maurice Denham
This film marked the first full length animated feature film to come out of England. Recently, it was also revealed that it was funded by the CIA, making this film one of the biggest propaganda pieces in all of cinema history.
A successful farmyard revolution by the resident animals versus the farmer goes horribly wrong as the victors create a new tyranny among themselves.
IMDb rating: 7.2
Rotten Tomatoes rating: 63%
Genevieve’s rating: 🔥🔥🔥
Jessica’s rating: 🔥🔥🔥
Genevieve: I have never read this book nor have I even heard of this film until Jessica suggested it to me. I knew it would be a bleak story just from my general knowledge of the novel and its history, but I don’t like I was fully prepared for what I was going to be seeing. This is not a children’s movie, for sure. It might be the darkest subject matter for an animated film I have ever seen. It is certainly not the fuzzy fairytale that Disney was releasing at the time.
Jessica: Actually, when it was first released, people thought it was a Disney movie, and took their kids to see it. It traumatized the wee brains. Animal Farm was pure propaganda. They removed some characters and the ending is completely changed to fit the message they were trying to send. The novel is much better at pointing out that both systems suck, while the movie picks a side.
Genevieve: As an American, I can see where people could make parallels from this story to our own political climate during this election period. It is actually rather scary to watch.
Jessica: That’s why Orwell has never gone out of style. The CIA actually claims to have promised Orwell’s widow the opportunity to meet Clark Gable in exchange for the ability to purchase the rights to make the film.
Genevieve: I also saw that they took it to England because they felt that their message would be better spread there since the fear from the Cold War had already begun in that area. I really feel like the history behind this films makes it more interesting than it would be on its own. Had I not known any of the extra trivia about this film, I probably would not have rated it so high. It is largely just a piece of propaganda.