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Animal Farm


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Product Details

  • Actors: Kelsey Grammer, Ian Holm, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Julia Ormond, Pete Postlethwaite
  • Directors: John Stephenson
  • Writers: Alan Janes, George Orwell, Martyn Burke
  • Producers: Greg Smith, Morgan O'Sullivan, Paul Lowin, Robert Halmi Sr.
  • Format: Closed-captioned, Color, Dolby, NTSC
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 5.1)
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: PG (Parental Guidance Suggested)
  • Studio: Lions Gate
  • DVD Release Date: January 18, 2000
  • Run Time: 91 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (86 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0000365DS
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #59,086 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Animal Farm" on IMDb

Special Features

  • Interview with Kelsey Grammer
  • Interview with Robert Halmi, Jr
  • Storyboard Comparisons
  • The Animal Rules
  • Historical Background

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com

After the technical achievement of Babe, it was inevitable that "talking animal" effects would be applied to the serious themes of George Orwell's Animal Farm. A bitterly satirical indictment of Stalinist Russia and the failure of Communism, Orwell's 1945 novel is a time-honored classic, so it's only fitting that this TNT production remains largely faithful to Orwell's potent narrative. A showcase for the impressive creations of Jim Henson's Creature Shop (where director John Stephenson was a veteran supervisor), the film employs animatronic critters and computer animation to tell the story of uprising, unity, and tragic rebellion among the animals of a British farm.

The politics of "Animalism" are initially effective, ousting enemy humans according to rules ordained by Old Major, the barnyard pig whose death sets the stage for the corruptive influence of the pig Napoleon, who cites superior intelligence as his right to superiority. This tyrannical reign destroys the farm's stability, and the film--decidedly not for young children--preserves Orwell's dark, cynical view of absolute power corrupting absolutely. Particularly effective is a propaganda film shown to the barnyard collective, and certain scenes--while not as impressive as the Babe films--powerfully convey the force of Orwell's story through animal "performance." Animal Farm occasionally falters in its emotional impact (the fate of the horse Boxer should be heart-rending, and it isn't), but it's certainly blessed with an elite voice cast, including Peter Ustinov, Patrick Stewart, Pete Postlethwaite, Julia Ormond, Kelsey Grammer, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Paul Scofield, and Ian Holm. Not the masterpiece it might've been, this is nevertheless a worthy representation of Orwell's novel. (Ages 8 and older) --Jeff Shannon

Customer Reviews

Now it is just plain, bad.
Dave Allen
In Animal Farm, I really like how George Orwell uses animals to comically depict the greed of the life-styles of human beings.
Cara
Read the book, but avoid this film at all costs.
David Schaich

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

62 of 67 people found the following review helpful By David Schaich on September 11, 2003
Format: DVD
"Animal Farm" is based on the novel by George Orwell, which tells the short story of a popular revolution gone wrong. So when I (belatedly) learned that a movie had been made of it, I could barely wait to take a look at it. "After all," I figured, "even Hollywood can't ruin Orwell's Animal Farm!" I was mistaken.
The good aspects of the film can be summarized relatively quickly. Hearing Patrick Stewart yelling 'Revolution!' as a pig was curiously satisfying. As in Orwell's work, I enjoyed considering the parallels between the revolution on the farm and the Russian Revolution. And that about does it.
If I'm not careful, I could rant on for a goodly time regarding what I didn't like about the film. A brief opening criticism is the way in which the story has been... popularized? dumbed down? ruined?... with long sections of junk appropriate for preschoolers. Singing ducks and pathetic 'action' sequences do nothing to advance the plot and are simply tedious by any (adult) standard. For some reason, this film's producers apparently decided to make children their chief audience/target, even though the themes and messages of Orwell's work are in no way meant for children - even if they do involve a lot of cute animals. As a result, anybody old enough to understand "Animal Farm" will almost certainly be bored or insulted (probably both!) by this film.
But the most disgusting sin of the filmmakers was the way in which they completely demolished the story's message. As a libertarian socialist, Orwell wrote "Animal Farm" to warn against popular revolutions being hijacked by their self-proclaimed leaders.
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59 of 66 people found the following review helpful By Paco Calderón on August 23, 2001
Format: VHS Tape Verified Purchase
Orwell's bleak fable about revolution betrayed gets the full sunny "family-entertainment" Hallmark treatment and the result, as you can imagine, is abominable! Pity, for it has a great cast and several scenes worth looking at, but, as a whole, this movie -as all TNT "adaptations"- is completely off the mark! 'Animal Farm' ...for kiddies? With a happy ending? So the entire family can "squeal with delight"? Just who the hell thought that out?! No one, it seems, and it shows. The film is too tame for adult viewers who'd like to see the grim little novel on screen, and too violent for children who certainly won't expect to witness a cutesy Babe-like talking piggie executing his brothers-in-arms legs. My guess is they'll both be horrified at the end, its patched-up "happy" conclusion notwithstanding: Kids, because they're not stupid and sure realize it's back to the chopping block for their furry & feathered friends the moment the "new owners" step in; and adults, not only for the outrageous "liberties" taken from the book, but because -come to think of it- the sugarcoated finale holds a new ominous moral in itself: No, don't worry, the future won't be a Communist dictatorship after all; the future will be one big, happy, postcard-looking Americana, owned by cool Ken and Barbie, whose kinder, gentler slaughterhouse still awaits your neck! "Hey! Whaddaya expect? We're running a FARM here!"
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31 of 34 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on February 26, 2001
Format: VHS Tape
Animal Farm and 1984...along with Aldous Huxley's Brave New World...are my favorite books. So, naturally, I was ecsatic about TNT bringing this classic to life as a movie (TNT usually does better book-to-movie adaptations than Hollywood anyways)
Well, by the end of the film I had decidedly mixed emotions. As far as Orwell's story goes, the film was precise and to the number. The two warring philosophies of leadership, as embodied by pigs Napoleon and Snowball (Stalin & Trotsky) are voiced perfectly by Kelsey Grammar and Patrick Stewart. I think for megolomania, you can't do better than Stewart.
Jesse, the dog, is as I always imagined, the typical Russian citizen during communism, who realizes the evil of totalitarianism, but is too afraid to go against it. And the supporting cast, like Boxer the Horse, represent the many victims of a dictatorship, whose "uselessness" as judged by the state ends in their ellimination.
The makers of this movie put together a fine parallel to Orwell's novel. But the ending didn't sit right with me. Of course, certain imagery, like the rock wall collapsing, is an obvious metaphor for the Berlin Wall falling, and the end of communism. But I don't see why the filmmakers decided to tack on this happy, optimistic ending, with the "brave and free-minded" Americans coming in to take over the farm and save the animals. Why couldn't they have just left it the way Orwell left it, uncertain and hopeless?
Orwell probably knew when he wrote the book that communism would fall in the future, but he left that out because I imagine it wasn't his intention to be a prophet, or a bringer of hope to the Russians. It was his intention to show the evils of totalitarianism, which this movie does well until that ending. Oh well. In the end, it still remains a very good movie, both on its own and as an adaptation.
"All animals are equal, but some are more equal than others!"
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19 of 21 people found the following review helpful By david botton on June 9, 2000
Format: VHS Tape
The acting and animatronics in this film are executed well enough, but the sappy, feel-good ending that these naive, well-to-do Hollywood clowns have herein introduced must have had George Orwell rolling in his grave; everything ends on a nice, viewer-friendly, hunky-dory happy note in this movie--COMPLETELY opposite to Orwell's ending, and his intended meaning. The only way these script writers could have even considered such a carefree butchery of Orwell's original ending is by falling into the naive perception that Orwell was ONLY warning readers about totalitarian Russia, and not warning readers about totalitarianism anywhere and anytime into the future; sadly, these Hollywood history dunces are not the only ones who have myopically accepted this unreality: I recently bought a paperback edition of Animal Farm which features a forward written by an educated fool of a writer by the name of Russell Baker who also limits Orwell's meaning to Soviet Russia alone!--the naivete is spreading, and Orwell's intentionally dark and profound admonition is being given a shiny new whitewash by these optimistic and heedless people; it is just such blindly optimistic stupidity which allows history and holocausts to repeat and repeat and repeat every so often. This movie was enjoyable up to that butchery of a happy ending, but that ending alone is enough to repulse me from ever recommending it.
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