Animal Farm (1954) — Feature Length Theatrical Animated Film

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Animal Farm (1954) - Feature Length

Ani­mal Farm (1954) — Fea­ture Length

CotD: The first feature-length enter­tain­ment car­toon made in Great Britain, “Ani­mal Farm” was pro­duced and directed by the team of John Halas and Joy Batchelor…

Ani­mal Farm (1954) — Fea­ture Length The­atri­cal Ani­mated Film

Manor Farm has fallen on hard times, and Farmer Jones takes it out on his ani­mals. Prize boar-hog Old Major calls a meet­ing, attended by his fel­low pigs, Boxer the horse, Ben­jamin the don­key and the other animals.

Old Major tells them that while he will die of old age, the oth­ers prob­a­bly won’t. The farm is rich enough to sup­port them all if they over­throw Jones and take con­trol– but with­out adopt­ing his vices, as all ani­mals are equal. The ani­mals sing, cluck, bark, squeak and whinny a song of sol­i­dar­ity, and Old Major dies.

The next morn­ing, the ani­mals break into the grain store after Jones for­gets to feed them. Sens­ing a new deter­mi­na­tion about them, Jones runs to the pub to get rein­force­ments. The fight­ing is fierce, but the humans are forced to flee.

Napoleon leads the ani­mals into Jones’s house. They agree that it is no place for them– but Napoleon sneaks back inside after­ward. He adopts a lit­ter of pup­pies fol­low­ing their mother’s death.

The ani­mals draw up a code of con­duct: no ani­mal shall sleep in a bed, no ani­mal shall kill another ani­mal, and so on– cul­mi­nat­ing in the prin­ci­ple that all ani­mals are equal. The farm is renamed Ani­mal Farm, and the ani­mals take over the humans’ old jobs. Boxer attracts admi­ra­tion for his tire­less ded­i­ca­tion, and the farm becomes far more pro­duc­tive than before.

A meet­ing is held to dis­cuss the farm’s future, the pigs tabling a res­o­lu­tion to spread the rev­o­lu­tion­ary mes­sage to other farms. Napoleon’s right-hand pig Snow­ball ana­lyzes the farm’s social and power structure.

Win­ter comes, along with cold and short­ages. Snow­ball devises a plan involv­ing the ani­mals work­ing more and eat­ing less, but the out­come will be elec­tric­ity, heat, light and gen­eral lux­ury. Napoleon dis­misses this as fan­tasy, and he sets his dogs (the for­mer pup­pies) to drive Snow­ball into exile.

Napoleon adopts the fat pig Squealer as his mouth­piece, and he denounces Snow­ball as a trai­tor. Abol­ish­ing col­lec­tive meet­ings, he says that he’ll look after the ani­mals’ inter­ests. A wind­mill is con­structed, work­ing the ani­mals to exhaus­tion. How­ever, they get less food than the pigs, who claim that they need it for their brainpower.

Boxer and Ben­jamin dis­cover that the pigs have moved into the farmer’s old house, and that they are sleep­ing in his bed. This con­tra­dicts one of the farm’s edicts, but the ani­mals decide that they’ve inter­preted it wrongly when the words “with sheets” are added.

A trader named Whym­per starts doing busi­ness with Napoleon. Squealer announces that the chick­ens will pro­duce eggs for con­sump­tion, but they rebel, caus­ing Napoleon to sum­mon his dogs. At a show trial, ani­mals are sent into exile, and the words “with­out cause” are added to the edict about them not killing each other. Napoleon announces that the rev­o­lu­tion is com­plete, and that the rev­o­lu­tion­ary song is banned.

Whymper’s suc­cess is noticed by the jeal­ous farm­ers, who march on the farm and blow up the wind­mill. It is painstak­ingly rebuilt. Years pass, and a new gen­er­a­tion of pigs grows up. The wind­mill has still not been fin­ished, and finally, Boxer col­lapses in exhaustion.

Napoleon is told that Boxer will never work again. Ben­jamin pre­dicts a well-earned retire­ment, but a strange van arrives. Find­ing Boxer gone, the ani­mals run after the van, but they can­not catch up. They see Boxer whin­ny­ing in fear, as the van is going to Whymper’s glue factory.

They return to the farm to hear Squealer claim­ing that Boxer died nat­u­rally, and that his last words were in praise of Napoleon. No one believes him. The pigs drink to Boxer’s mem­ory with the whisky that they received from Whym­per in payment.

More years pass. The rev­o­lu­tion is for­got­ten. The farm pros­pers, but only the pigs are bet­ter off than they were. Pig del­e­gates from far and wide arrive at Ani­mal Farm to cel­e­brate the com­ing of a new era. The other ani­mals stand out­side read­ing a new sign: “ALL ANIMALS ARE EQUAL BUT SOME ARE MORE EQUAL THAN OTHERS.”

The other ani­mals can­not now tell the dif­fer­ence between Napoleon and Farmer Jones. Cast­ing aside their belief in a Utopian future to relieve their present suf­fer­ing, they march on the farmhouse…

Watch “Ani­mal Farm” on video at Big Car­toon DataBase

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About Dave Koch

Editor and publisher of the Big Cartoon DataBase, Dave has been involved in cartoons since opening the Cartoon Factory animation art gallery in 1993. You may contact Dave here.

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