Monday, December 10, 2007

Animal Farm and the World of Orwell

I’ve never seen the film version of George Orwell’s “Animal Farm,” so I recently watched a copy of the older, animated version of the book. I appreciated the ability to be able refresh my memories of this great work through the film, while able to accomplish some other busy work at the same time.

To refresh the memories of the reader here, Animal Farm tells the story of an alcoholic farmer who neglects the care of his animals, so the animals unite and organize themselves, running the drunken farmer off the premises. The animals then take over the operation of the farm, doing the work without the direction of the farmer and having much success, exceeding that of the farm under the direction of the farmer. They rename their farm “Animal Farm” in defiance. The pigs begin teaching the animals how to read, so that they will be less vulnerable to domination in the future.

As with the book that I last revisited about five years ago, I am most impressed with the list of rules that the animals paint on the side of Animal Farm’s barn for all to see. The pigs make their bold statements and new code for living on the barn as a reminder. The film proved to be the same for me, and perhaps it made even more of an impact by virtue of some of their depictions. I loved the dripping, wet paint. “Four legs good. Two legs bad.”
The ruling class, the pigs, paint soon discover the need to amend the list to “cover their backsides” and find justification for their new, human-like behaviors. The rule stating that “No animal shall sleep in a bed” must be modified, for the bourgeois pigs have developed a fond appreciation for the comfort of the farmer’s abandoned bed. They amend the rule with a clause that clarifies their “original” intended meaning so that the rule “rightly” reads “No animal shall sleep in a bed with sheets.” In the film, I appreciate the small detail of an obviously different color and appearance of the paint used to paint the amendment clause.

The rule of “No animal shall harm another animal” must be revised as well after Napoleon, the pig in charge, orders the second episode of execution of his dissenters. How this smacks of Robespierre’s ironic end during the French Revolution! The rule is amended to read “No animal shall harm another animal without cause.”

Near the end of the film and the story, when the bourgeois pigs no longer resemble pigs but look more like the humans they have overrun, they paint the most poignant amendment of all.

“All animals are equal,
but some are more equal than others.”
Molly Aley said...
Btw, a friend of mine, Peter, was thinking the same thing you were in a recent post of his:
December 12, 2007 9:44 PM

Cindy said...
Interesting.Einstein said that God doesn't play dice. Chance has little to no meaning in a world of providence.If we are all members of one another in the Spirit, we certainly do hear the same things in our minds -- I would hope. My wheels started turning when a reader here brought my attention to Sara Robinson a few weeks ago. I quoted from her essay entitled "Some Are More Equal Than Others."What's weird was, until I watched that video last week, I'd completely forgotten about the "some are more equal than others" quote from Orwell specifically. My subscious mind was chewing on that and probably put me on the path of seeking out Animal Farm. But that explains my part.I wonder how Peter Kirk picked up on the thought? Hmmm.Either way, I still don't think that God plays dice!
December 12, 2007 10:00 PM

Corrie said...
Cindy,Excellent post!! I am putting that film on my Netflix queue and I am going to get the book off of the shelf and read it this week.
December 13, 2007 10:27 PM