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British Movie Toons
 

     Animal Farm


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   Animal Farm    
(1954)
  
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   producers: Louis de Rochemont /
                     Halas & Batchelor
   animation:
 cel animation
      run time: 75 mins

 

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    "All animals are equal, but some animals are
     more equal than others..."

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    Oppressed animals take over their farm, only to find themselves creating new
    tyrants within their own ranks.

    George Orwell's political fable is presented here in its first screen adaptation.
    The film was also the first British animated feature to to reach cinema screens.
    Production commenced in April 1951 and was completed in October 1954.
    Prior to the film, Halas & Batchelor worked with a crew of just twenty personnel
    on their sponsored industrial and propaganda films. Work on "Animal Farm"
    meant introducing a new crash course in animation. Within a year they had
    trained up a creative crew of seventy...

       Boxer, working hard for Animal Farm...

    Orwell's book is no fairytale, of course. By necessity, Halas & Batchelor
    dilute the source material a little and edit the story to fit the restraints of the
    medium. But even so, this is an uncompromising and challenging work.
    The critics applauded its arrival, though it underperformed at the box office
    upon original release. Perhaps the audience wasn't ready for such a bleak
    vision, coming after the hummable delights of "Peter Pan" and "Cinderella"?
    Fifty years on, this gallant film has matured most handsomely, and is
    essential viewing for anyone with an interest in the animaton genre.

    The battle between commerciality and artistic endeavour is an ongoing one.
    If one looks down the rosta of animated films made in the UK one can see
    that same over-riding theme. "Yellow Submarine", "Watership Down", "The Secret
    Adventures of Tom Thumb" - British films have dared to balance commerciality
    and artistry up on the high-wire, with varying degrees of success. Even the
    likes of "Chicken Run", funded by a company as American as apple pie, are
    resolutely British in character and theme. Well, "Animal Farm" led the way.
    A most worthy project, historically important, and a signpost for things to
    come from the British animation industry. Students and fans should load
    up their wallets and track down the 1954 publication "Animal Farm - The
    Animated Film" by Roger Manvell (Sylvan Press) which features many
    marvellous production sketches and illustrations from the film....

    Halas & Batchelor, of course, remained at the forefront of British animation
    for the next twenty+ years. John Halas produced and/or directed more than
    2000 productions and he wrote numerous books about the field. The company's
    tv series, like Foo-Foo and DoDo - The Kid from Outer Space were amongst
    the first created for the medium.     
       
    In 2003  "Animal Farm" was released as a special-edition DVD, stuffed
    with informative additions, archive material and professional commentary...

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     Awards

     1956 Berlin Film Festival - Diploma
     1956 Durban Film Festival - Diploma of Merit
     1955 Critics Choice Award

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     Animal Farm on DVD

     
UK DVD Animal Farm: special edition
                Region 2 / Universal / August 2003

     
USA DVD Animal Farm
                Region 1 /
Homevision / Nov 2004

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directors:       John Halas, Joy Batchelor
     producers:    John Halas, Joy Batchelor,
                         Louis de Rochemont
     script:          Joy Batchelor, John Halas,
                         Philip Stapp, Lothar Wolf
                         from the novel by George Orwell
     design:        
John Halas, Joy Batchelor,
                         Digby Turpin, Bernard Carey
     animation:    Arthur Humberston, Ralph Ayres,
                         Eddy Radage, Harold Whitaker
     head of
      animation: 
    John Reed
     sound fx:      Jack King
     sponsor:       Louis de Rochemont
     music:          Matyas Seiber
     voices:         Gordon Heath (narrator)
                         Maurice Denham (all of the animals)
 

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      On the web


       
Halas & Batchelor
       The official site with info on the extraordinary Halas & Batchelor
       catalogue, details of the studio history, awards, availability and clips
       to view too - including one from 'Animal Farm'....


      Animation Research Centre
       The Surrey-based centre have an extensive Halas & Batchelor collection,
       and they present a huely informative studio and production history online
       here, together with an archive of the rest of their extraordinary work...


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