This is the trailer for the 1954 film adaptation of George Orwell’s Animal Farm, created by the British film-makers John Halas and Joy Batchelor. The choice of an animated film was particularly suited to Orwell’s fable, as it managed to convey the fairy-tale quality of the story while maintaining its political message.
A new ending
While Halas and Batchelor’s film was generally faithful to the plot of the book, there were some substantial alterations. Some of the book’s characters were removed from the film version, including the mares Molly and Clover. However, the most significant change was its ending. Orwell’s novel ends pessimistically by describing the pigs as indistinguishable from their human masters. In contrast, the film presents a more uplifting ending in which the animals obtain outside help from other farms to successfully overthrow Napoleon.
Animal Farm and the CIA
During the 1950s, at the beginning of the Cold War, the works of Orwell became very popular – Orwell had famously denounced the Soviet Union as a repressive and totalitarian regime. The 1954 film version of Animal Farm was secretly funded by the American intelligence agency the CIA, who bought the rights from the writer’s widow, Sonia Orwell. The film was commissioned as part of their anti-Stalin and anti-Soviet Union propaganda strategy. Halas and Batchelor, who had previously worked on films for the American Marshall plan and the British Ministry of Information, were chosen for the project, although it is uncertain whether they knew who was funding the film.