Farmer Brown is the owner of Manor Farm. At one time the farm was healthy and prosperous. When the farm fell on hard times Farmer Brown began to drink and neglect the farm even more. One day the animals had enough of Farmer Brown’s cruelty and chased him away. When he tried to recruit other farmers to help him get his farm back, the animals chased them away as well. The animals got together and decided to organize the farm. They changed the name of it to Animal Farm and set out some rules. No animal shall sleep in a bed. No animal shall drink alcohol. Four legs good, two legs bad (wings are considered legs), no animal shall kill another animal, and all animals are equal. The pigs took charge. Snowball, the leader of the pigs, assigned chores and soon the farm was doing well under the leadership of the animals and in particular Snowball.
The pig, Napoleon, wanted power for himself. When Farmer Brown’s dog was killed in the fight with the farmers, her puppies were left alone. Napoleon trained the puppies to obey only him so that when they grew, he could use them as enforcers to attack Snowball and keep the other animals in line. He then took over the leadership of Animal Farm. He worked the animals hard and rationed their food. The pigs, however, ate well. The pigs then began sleeping in the farmer’s house and selling the chicken’s eggs for jam. The chickens tried to rebel, but Napoleon called his dogs out to suppress them. Napoleon has the rebel rousers slaughtered.
When Boxer, the workhorse, is injured and can no longer work, his friend Benjamin, the donkey, hopes that Boxer will be able to retire. Instead, Napoleon sells Boxer to the glue factory and buys whiskey for the pigs. The pigs begin to walk on two legs and start to organize with other farms. Napoleon wants the other farms to be under the rule of pigs and he wants to rule the pigs. Benjamin realizes that Napoleon is a cruel dictator and things are no better than when the farm was under the rule of Farmer Brown.
“Animal Farm” was released in 1954 and was directed by John Halas and Joy Batchelor. It is an American and British animated propaganda film geared toward adults and was based on the 1945 book “Animal Farm” by George Orwell.
The rights to the story were purchased from Orwell’s widow by the CIA. Specifically, the Central Intelligence Agency's Office of Policy Coordination. Among other things, the agency funded anti-communist propaganda managed by E. Howard Hunt. The CIA had changes made to the story to make Snowball more fanatical. The ending was also changed to make just the pigs corrupt since they represented the communists.
The film distributors, Louis de Rochemont Associates worked with both the American and British distributors as well as illustrators. Many American illustrators had been blacklisted by the "The House Un-American Activities Committee". Also, production costs were cheaper in Britain. To that end, Rochemont hired John Halas and Joy Batchelor to animate the film.
The British felt that the film was inappropriate for children and gave it an X rating. It’s not surprising since the film, even though animated, is very bleak and full of violence.
Maurice Denham provided the voices for all the characters. Narration was done by Gordon Heath.