Animal Farm

Animal Farm

By John Halas, Joy Batchelor - 1h13 - 1954 (Grande-Bretagne)
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Animal Farm
Audience 9+

Synopsis

At Manor Farm, the animals work without rest from morning till evening under the orders of Mr. Jones, a violent and alcoholic farmer. One evening, they gather around Old Major, a wise pig who knows he has only a few hours left to live. He urges his friends to refuse to carry on being exploited. "Which of us, after a life of hard labour, will enjoy the pleasures of a pleasant and quiet old age? " he asks them. His words quickly inspire others. Every animal on the farm starts to rebel. Soon they overthrow their master, rename the property "Animal Farm" and establish a new society based on the principle that all animals are equal. Alas! Some creatures' lust for power begins to threaten the developing utopia...

Benshi's review
Benshi's review

George Orwell's bestseller Animal Farm was published in 1945 and was later turned into the first English animated feature film, which swiftly became a classic. What made it rare at the time was that it was not aimed solely at children. Joy Batchelor and Johan Halas, a couple of British animators, stood out in an animation field that until then had been dominated by Disney studios, whose output was geared mainly towards a young audience. In terms of artwork, the animals in Animal Farm are not so different to Disney creatures. Here, too, the drawings are smooth and harmonious. Indeed, the clumsy little duckling bears an uncanny resemblance to his web-footed counterparts in The Ugly Duckling (1939). But that is where the similarity ends, because Animal Farm leans more towards La Fontaine than Uncle Walt. In Animal Farm, the animals ask questions about the conditions of their existence, hold a meeting in the barn and reject the grim future that awaits them if they continue to suffer the rule of a dictatorial and particularly sinister farmer. Grievances and shouts of protests echo around the farm, with incessant cackling, bleating and mooing. Only the pigs have the gift of speech, with characteristics close to humans, the animals' enemy. This is a fable with a universal message, with the film telling the story of the animals' revolt and their ability to organise themselves to build a new society based on equality. Like the book, it addresses the issues of equality, freedom and distrust of power. A group of tyrannical pigs with authoritarian tendencies gradually destroys the collective hope ... until arriving at their famous formula ("All animals are equal, but some are more equal than others"), which marks the end of utopia. The range of colours used evokes the animals' state of mind as they go from hope to defeat. It fluctuates between light and golden colours - when hope is rekindled and the animals work in unison - to much darker tones. Under troubled skies, Animal Farm becomes an island of desolation engulfed by grey. The barn, the animals' gathering place, is plunged into darkness. The bipeds (i.e. the humans) have ashen complexion and frankly malevolent expressions. The animals' expressiveness accentuates the worrying and harmful climate. This is apparent, for example, in the fear in the face of Benjamin the donkey as he is losing his friend Boxer, the panic among the chickens, and the rudeness of the pigs and their threatening, foul-tempered dogs. Unlike Orwell's novella, the film finishes on a note of optimism. In addition, some of the book's subtleties did not survive the adaptation process. The pigs' cruelty towards the animals whom they betray is a little simplistic, whereas in the book some animals are also victims of the gullibility and eagerness to please. But Animal Farm is still an excellent film that can be enjoyed by anyone aged 9 and over. It will stimulate the interest of teenagers and adults, who may be able to identify the political figures hidden behind the animal characters: Snowball represents Trotsky while Napoleon is an allegory of Stalin, and so on ...

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Top reasons to watch this film !

  • 1 To introduce children to a political fable
  • 2 Because the film is not without humour and cutting irony
  • 3 Since the film is also aimed at adults, parents can enjoy it as much as children
  • 4 To discover, when on the cusp of adolescence, a highly significant writer: George Orwell

Who is it aimed at ?

For age 9 and over

Themes and topics

Animals Fable Literature