Monday, January 16, 2006

Animal Farm

Halas & Batchelor Cartoon Films
Directors: John Halas & Joy Batchelor
Length: 72 min.
Format: DVD
Date Viewed: 16 January

After reading a particularly great book, our curiosity almost always drives us to seek out the film adaptation, and as anyone can tell you, it's almost always a letdown. Such is the case with Animal Farm, though the fault does not entirely lay the directors. No, in this case, it's partly the CIA's doing. Recently discovered as having been funded by the CIA (who bought the film rights to the novel after promising to arrange a meeting between George Orwell's widow and her favorite actor, Clark Gable), the infamous critique of the Soviet style of fascistic Socialism as well as of Western Capitalism morphed in its transition to the screen into a pro-West propaganda piece that betrays the novel and lessens the story. The directors, however, made another error in modifying some of the key characters by reducing their interesting traits - Benjamin, the intellectual and conscientious though quiet objector, is now just another working-stiff on the farm; gone entirely is Mollie, the uber-Capitalist. Further, almost all of the deceptively simple dialogue from the book was cut, and a narrator does much speaking, but only gives us background details and unnecessarily telling us what's happening on screen. Where the film succeeds is in it's simple yet gorgeous animation, and it's lovely score. Halas and Batchelor deserve much praise for these two aspects, but it's a shame the story and script couldn't match it.


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