animals are equal, but some animals are
more equal than others..."
Oppressed animals take over their farm, only
to find themselves creating new
tyrants within their own ranks.
George Orwell's political fable is presented
here in its first screen adaptation.
The film was also the first British animated
feature to to reach cinema screens.
Production commenced in April 1951 and was
completed in October 1954.
Prior to the film, Halas & Batchelor worked with
a crew of just twenty personnel
on their sponsored industrial and propaganda films.
Work on "Animal Farm"
meant introducing a new crash course in animation.
Within a year they had
trained up a creative crew of seventy...
Orwell's book is no fairytale, of course.
By necessity, Halas & Batchelor
dilute the source material a little and edit the
story to fit the restraints of the
medium. But even so, this is an uncompromising
and challenging work.
The critics applauded its arrival, though
it underperformed at the box office
upon original release. Perhaps the audience
wasn't ready for such a bleak
vision, coming after the hummable delights
of "Peter Pan" and "Cinderella"?
Fifty years on, this gallant film has matured
most handsomely, and is
essential viewing for anyone with an interest
in the animaton genre.
The battle between commerciality and artistic endeavour
is an ongoing one.
If one looks down the rosta of animated films
made in the UK one can see
that same over-riding theme. "Yellow
Submarine", "Watership Down", "The Secret
Adventures of Tom Thumb" - British films
have dared to balance commerciality
and artistry up on the high-wire, with varying
degrees of success. Even the
likes of "Chicken Run", funded by a company
as American as apple pie, are
resolutely British in character and theme. Well,
"Animal Farm" led the way.
A most worthy project, historically important,
and a signpost for things to
come from the British animation industry. Students
and fans should load
up their wallets and track down the 1954 publication
"Animal Farm - The
Animated Film" by Roger Manvell (Sylvan
Press) which features many
marvellous production sketches and illustrations
from the film....
Halas & Batchelor, of course, remained
at the forefront of British animation
for the next twenty+ years. John Halas produced
and/or directed more than
2000 productions and he wrote numerous books
about the field. The company's
tv series, like Foo-Foo
and DoDo - The Kid from Outer Space
the first created for the medium.
In 2003 "Animal Farm" was released
as a special-edition DVD, stuffed
with informative additions, archive material
and professional commentary...
1956 Berlin Film Festival - Diploma
1956 Durban Film Festival - Diploma
1955 Critics Choice Award
Farm on DVD
Farm: special edition
2 / Universal / August 2003
1 / Homevision
/ Nov 2004
John Halas, Joy Batchelor
Halas, Joy Batchelor,
Louis de Rochemont
Joy Batchelor, John Halas,
Philip Stapp, Lothar Wolf
from the novel by George Orwell
Halas, Joy Batchelor,
Digby Turpin, Bernard Carey
Humberston, Ralph Ayres,
Eddy Radage, Harold Whitaker
sound fx: Jack
Maurice Denham (all of the animals)