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Animal Farm
Approx. run time 80 minutes
Distributed by Hallmark Films
Written by Alan Janes
Martyn Burke (teleplay)
George Orwell (novel)
Directed by Joseph Stephenson
Produced by Greg Smith
Robert Halmi
Starring Kelsey Grammer
Ian Holm
Julia Louis-Dreyfus
Patrick Stewart
Julia Ormond
Paul Scofield
Pete Postlethwaite
Peter Ustinov
Editing by Colin Green
Music by Richard Harvey
Cinematography Mike Brewster
Budget $23 million
Country United Kingdom
Language English
Release date October 3, 1999 (1999-10-03)

Animal Farm is a made for TV film version of the 1945 George Orwell novel of the same name.

Differences from the novel

The plot basically follows that of the novel, but there are many slight differences:

  • One of the biggest differences from the novel is the heightened role of Jessie, the Border Collie, who serves as the film's primary narrator, and protagonist.
  • The film is shown as a flashback taking place within Jessie's memory.
  • The film portrays the end of Napoleon's rule, mentioning the collapse of a wall (analogous to the fall of Communism and the opening of the Berlin Wall in 1989), the return of dissident animals who had hidden themselves, and the ultimate replacement of the farm's owners by a young family purchasing the land. Jessie states the animals will be frequently watching their new masters to prevent the animal cruelty that they had once dealt with under Napoleon and Jones.
  • Snowball is a different color in the film than the book.
  • The animals never address each other as "comrade" as they do in the book, although they do talk of "comradeship".
  • Clover the horse is absent in the movie, being replaced by Jessie. However, while she is never named or referenced to, a third horse can be spotted in some scenes alongside Boxer and Mollie which could be Clover.
  • Mollie, one of the main characters in the book, is only seen at brief moments in the film and speaks only when Jessie tells her about the meeting and when she is uncertain about being deprived of the ribbons she now wears in her hair.
  • In the novel, Old Major dies of old age three days after giving his speech, but in the film he is accidentally shot by Jones minutes after finishing his speech.
  • Instead of being buried in the orchard, Old Major's body is carved up by one of Mr. Jones' workmen and made into meat. When the animals explore the farmhouse, Old Major's head is discovered wrapped in plastic in a cupboard.
  • All the animal executions are changed to trials and hangings.
  • The songs have been replaced; "Beasts of England" is changed to "Beasts of the World".
  • In the novel, during the battle of the Cowshed, a sheep was shot when charging. In the film, a goose was shot.
  • The animals in the movie were computer animated so that their mouths would match up with the voices (Although the pigs are only computer animated when Snowball is painting the new sign for the farm and the Seven Commandments, with the pigs otherwise being animatronic models with movable mouths and heads).
  • Old Major's skull being mounted on display is only briefly mentioned twice in the novel, but is seen throughout the film after the pig's death.
  • The ending where Jessie escapes with many of the animals and returns to a post-Napoleon Animal Farm was not in the novel, but serves as a reference to post-Soviet Russia. In the novel, she, like many of the other animals, dies of old age and overwork.
  • The novel's infamous twist ending is portrayed, but earlier in the film and without the pigs dressed as humans and on two legs (which does appear, only in the "Napoleon: Mighty Leader" propaganda film portraying Napoleon dressed in a suit and standing upright). Additionally, the pigs begin wearing hats and monocles much earlier in the film.
  • In the novel, the windmill is damaged in construction and Napoleon blames this on Snowball. Later, there is a second battle where the windmill is destroyed with dynamite. In the film, the windmill is never damaged in construction. Mr. and Mrs. Jones sneak into the camp in their truck and blow up the windmill, accidentally destroying their vehicle in the process. When Napoleon discovers the destroyed windmill and the wrecked truck, he declares Snowball stole the vehicle and destroyed the windmill.
  • Mr. Frederick's role is reduced and he even expresses sympathy for the animals.
  • In the film, the humans sneak a microphone into the barn in an attempt to understand how the animals are running the farm. Using this, they later learn that the animals can speak English and Mr. Pilkington decides to start trading with them. In the novel, it was Mr. Whymper who began trading with Napoleon, and this as only to serve as a go-between for other trading purposes after being approached by Napoleon himself.
  • The card game at the end of the novel never takes place.
  • A new character is introduced in the film. He is an unnamed, fat rat who served as comic relief, but was killed by Napoleon. He is not present in the novel, though the novel states that there are rats on the farm.
  • Benjamin is presumably younger than he is in the book, as well as happier. He is seen as friends to the rat, but not as much to Boxer as in the book, although there are many scenes with the two of them together. Benjamin is also seen chasing the horse slaughterer's van when Boxer is taken away.
  • Boxer and many of the other animals could not read in the novel; in the movie they can.
  • The character of Muriel was dead by the time of Napoleon's meeting with Mr. Pilkington in the book, but in the film she is alive, and escapes the farm with Jessie, and a few other animals.
  • Instead of Squealer telling the animals directly about Napoleon's plans, he addresses them through "Jones' camera equipment."
  • Minimus, the pig who wrote songs and poems praising Napoleon in the novel, is absent in the film.
  • There are three dogs present in the novel: Jessie, Bluebell, and Pincher. In the film, only Jessie and Pincher are mentioned and play a role in the film (Pincher's role is not as substantial as Jessie's). Although there are other adult dogs on the farm in the film, Bluebell is never mentioned. One of the dogs, a smooth coated Border Collie, seen in the film could portray her character (even though the dog in the film is male). Other adult dogs present in the film also play no role in the film, including a Jack Russel Terrier, a sable Border Collie, and a wirehaired lurcher.
  • In the novel, Jessie and Bluebell whelp nine puppies. As Bluebell is absent in the film, only Jessie gives birth. Instead of nine puppies whelped between two mothers as in the novel, three puppies are born in the film, all of which are mothered by Jessie.
  • Mollie leaves the farm early on in the novel and is never heard of or mentioned again. In the film, she stays throughout.
  • At the end of the film, one of Jessie's puppies survives Napoleon's reign and brings about a new generation of Jessie's pups. The ending of the novel is different, and this event does not occur.
  • Pinkeye, the pig who tested Napoleon's food to ensure that it was not poisoned, is absent in the film.
  • In the novel, only Bluebell and Jessie's puppies work for Napoleon. In the film, Napoleon's "Animal Guard" includes Jessie's litter of puppies and the other dogs on the farm (excluding Jessie).
  • When Snowball begins developing his plans for the windmill in the novel, Napoleon visits them by himself and urinates on them. While he does urinate on them in the film, he performs this act in front of the other animals on the farm.
  • The roles of both Mrs. Pilkington and Mrs. Jones are slightly increased in the film. Mrs. Jones is only briefly mentioned in the novel and Mrs Pilkington is not mentioned at all in the novel.
  • Muriel plays a greater role in the film than she does in the book.
  • In the novel, the van that sends Boxer to the glue factory is driven by horses. The film is more modern, and shows an actual vehicle driven by men and not by horses.
  • Jessie's pain over the kidnapping of her children is increased in the film and she even voices opposition over Napoleon's decision to take them away.
  • At the end of the novel, only one of the commandments remains, and that is the last one. In the film, all of them still remain at the end.
  • The cat is not present in the film.
  • The vote in the novel that decided whether rats and other wild animals were comrades never occurs in the film.
  • In the novel, the pigs take the milk that they milked from the cows and feed it to themselves. In the film, the milk is presumed to go to Jessie's puppies.
  • Boxer splits his hoof in a battle in the novel. His hoof is never injured in the film.

Cast

Cast Character Notes
Kelsey Grammer Snowball (voice)
Patrick Stewart Napoleon (voice)
Ian Holm Squealer (voice)
Julia Louis-Dreyfus Mollie (voice)
Julia Ormond Jessie (voice)
Pete Postlethwaite Farmer Jones/Benjamin
Paul Scofield Boxer (voice)
Peter Ustinov Old Major (voice)
Alan Stanford Farmer Pilkington N/A

External links

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