Monday, January 27, 2014

Movie Monday: Animal Farm

Animal Farm (1954)
On the second and fourth Monday of every month, I feature Movie Monday. I recognize that few people have the time or desire to read the amount I do, especially when it comes to the 100 Best Novels list. Luckily, Hollywood loves adapting a classic and I love a good movie almost as much as a good book.

Happy Monday, everyone! I hope you had a great weekend and stayed very warm. Here in the Midwest, things are completely out of control cold. I'm hating it. I just do not handle winter well. 

It's the perfect weather to cuddle up with a cup of tea and a good book - or a good movie for that matter.

Back in October, I read George Orwell's classic Animal Farm for the first time ever. You can go read the post about it refresh yourself on all my thoughts. In summary, though, I loved it. It's a classic for a reason.

When I picked up the 1954 film adaptation, I had high hopes. The animated movie, unfortunately, did not live up to those expectations.

While the book is short, it packs in a lot of content. With the movie clocking in at under 90 minutes, it just didn't seem to have the time needed to tell the full story. The timeline of the story progressed much faster than in the book. For instance, the initial battle between the humans and animals took place almost immediately after their revolution. In the book, some time has passed before this event occurs.

I think my least favorite feature of the movie was the issue of animals talking. At times, the animals spoke with words. At other times, they made traditional animal noises. There seemed to be little rhyme or reason for why they switched back and forth. Obviously, I understand that animals make animal noises and they do not really speak English, but that they needed to speak English for the sake of the movie. Still, they obviously communicate with humans in the story, so we already have the need to suspend reality. Why, then, couldn't they just all speak English all the time rather than having bursts of exclusively animal noises? Overall, this approach resulted in there being far less talking than I anticipated. 

In this same vein, the big, patriotic song of the animal revolution was always only sung with animal noises. They movie never presented the words to the audience. Since, in the book, this song is a big point of pride for the animals, I felt as though taking away the words was a poor decision. The words needed to be there to show the importance of the song. Without its importance, it becomes less significant when Napoleon later bans it.

In what I assume was an effort to simplify the story, many characters had their roles significantly decreased or removed all together. My favorite character, Clover, did not exist in the movie at all. I felt there was so much more character development and nuance in the book. The movie really lacked on this front. 

After all of that, they even changed the ending. Bad call, 1950s Hollywood.

Suffice it to say, I liked the book a whole lot better. This movie could be a way to introduce a younger audience to the story but, honestly, if they are old enough for the movie, they are probably old enough for the book. I'm hoping that when I get around to the 1999 adaptation, some of these issues will have been resolved. In the mean time, stick to the book, Animal Farm fans.

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