Animal Farm (1954)

Article 1866 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 4-24-2006
Posting Date: 9-21-2006
Directed by Joy Batchelor and John Halas
Featuring the voices of Gordon Heath and Maurice Denham

After suffering abuse and neglect from their owner, the animals of a farm stage a revolution and take over the place. They try to organize a better and more fair society, but one ambitious pig named Napolean has other ideas…

I can’t tell you how glad I am that Disney didn’t get the rights to do this one and make a lovable musical version of it. This one retains a good deal of the dark and tragic mood of the allegorical fable, and even though there are touches of whimsy and humor (it’s hard to have a group of animals undertake normally human tasks without getting a little whimsy and humor into it), these touches never overwhelm the story. It’s been years since I’ve read the book, but I do remember the gradual erosion of the laws written on the side of the barn, and that is here in full force. I also remember the final line of the book, which is here given a visual twist near the end of the movie. However, unless my memory of the book is faulty, the movie does try to come up with a more hopeful ending, but given the “Look at the new boss, same as the old boss” nature of the story, it’s really not that hopeful; the main question is who will be the new pigs. Because of its grimness, this one isn’t really appropriate for children, and the fate of Boxer the horse is definitely a traumatic and memorable sequence. All in all, despite any flaws, I think the movie does justice to the book, which I just may reread in the near future.


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