Sunday, February 17, 2013
Running Time: 72 minutes
Directed By: Joy Batchelor, John Halas
Written By: Joy Batchelor, John Halas, Borden Mace, Philip Stapp, Lothar Wolff, from novel by George Orwell
Main Cast: (voices): Gordon Heath, Maurice Denham
Click here to view the trailer
FOUR LEGS GOOD, TWO LEGS BAD
It was animation domination last night, as, what has to be one of the last animated features in THE BOOK, got it's chance to WOW me. George Orwell's classic novel of the same name is brought to the big screen, via animation - Britain's first piece of animation actually - and I can't say I was THAT impressed with it.
When I was in eighth grade we were given the assignment to read "Animal Farm". I didn't do it, because I just couldn't wrap my head around the idea of animals representing humans and proceeded to fail every test we took on the novel. Therefore, I was hesitant to check out the film, but optimistic, because obviously I've matured a little since eighth grade. If you're not aware, the entire story is an allegory for the Russian Revolution, with certain characters depicting Stalin, Lenin, Marx, etc. When the story starts the farm in question is called Manor Farm and is owned by Mr. Jones. Jones is a drunk oppressor, who doesn't feed the animals properly and generally mistreats them. One night, the oldest and wisest farm animal, Old Major (a prize-winning boar) calls the animals together and unties them, rallying them to rise up against Jones. When Major dies at the end of his speech, the animals are inspired and do just what Major suggested, "dethroning" Jones from his farm owner post and taking over Manor Farm, which they rename Animal Farm. Snowball, a pig, takes control of the whole operation, organizing the animals, writing up a list of commandments for them to follow and educating them. When rival pig Napoleon gets fed up with Snowball's leadership, he runs him out of Animal Farm and takes over himself. Under Napoleon's rule, the conditions for the animals become much worse, working twice as hard for less food.
Okay, allow me to be brutally honest: As I watched, I knew the animals in the film represented SOMETHING, but did not know they were meant to represent figures in the Russian Revolution. Therefore, I didn't watch the film with those representations in mind and actually got something very different out of the whole experience. I took the film as a simple sociological experiment, where the animals represented different classes of people. I viewed it as a lesson in what might happen if a civilization were to rise up against their leader/dictator. It was fascinating to me to see that even without Jones, the animals just couldn't be content, that around every corner there was going to be troubles, there was going to be hard work and no food and SOMEONE was going to want to be the leader of the whole thing. I was fascinated by the list of "animal commandments" that were written and then even more fascinated when they were rewritten by Napoleon.
"No animal shall kill another animal...without cause"
"All animals are equal...but some animals are more equal than others"
These laws/commandments reminded me of the Ten Commandments (a movie that I'll be watching soon) and how we basically rewrite those too, to serve our purposes. Are there times in life when we're no less deceptive and underhanded than Napoleon the pig? Do we rewrite laws and rules to serve our own purposes? Maybe. Probably. Definitely.
Finding out that every animal/race of animal in the movie/novel actually represented something in Russian history was kind of cool. I'm no Russian history professor and therefore, I couldn't appreciate the allegory as much as others, but it's cool to know that there's a whole piece of fiction waiting to be dissected by me, if I ever felt the urge to brush up on my history.
My final opinions on the film were about average. I think that this story is better left to the written word and an animated film comes off as too cutesy for such a powerful novel. What someone needs to do is somehow produce a live action version of this. Don't ask me how they'd do it, but if someone could figure it out and make it powerful enough, I'm sure it would be a success. I think most people are going to view this film like I did; not as a Russian allegory, but in it's simplest form - a society that cannot seem to exist when it is forced to take care of itself.
RATING: 5.5/10 We'll go ahead and wrap it up there. Like I said, unless you can somehow figure out how to do a live action version and make it good, then leave "Animal Farm" to the written page.
MOVIES WATCHED: 616
MOVIES LEFT TO WATCH: 385
February 17, 2013 12:11pm