“Animal Farm” doesn’t seem like a candidate for animation, but after seeing the lackluster live-action feature last year, this animated British film looks better and better each time I view it.
Oh, I’ve heard the complaints about it not being wholly faithful to the source material. I’m going to apply the same defense here that I gave to “Gulliver’s Travels”: the film is the last place to look for accuracy. A wholly faithful adaptation would have no doubt turned everyone off, but what they have left behind is fascinating: despite an upbeat ending, the flavor of the novel remains intact. How many films can you say that about? The stinging satire is there, the political parallels are there, but a certain entertainment value is there that wasn’t in the novel.
The ultimate message of the film leaves the viewer somewhat sad, according to my experience. But that’s a good thing, I think. The film was animated by the British animator John Halas, whose short subject “The Christmas Visitor” is widely available on public domain but hardly seen. He retains much of the same style as he did in his earlier short and makes a strong and honorable film.
The box and ads say “Not for children.” I think enlightened children will enjoy this film on one level and adults will enjoy it on an entirely different one.
If there’s one thing wrong with this film, it’s the ending. Orwell wrote an ending that was biting and necessary. By giving the film an upbeat ending, it somewhat undermines a first rate film. But I can’t ignore the power of the previous 73 minutes, so I’m still recommending it.