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George Orwell Makes CIA Movie

Animal Farm Film image/

New Hampshire filmmaker Louis de Rochemont had a crazy idea at the dawn of the Cold War. He would animate George Orwell’s classic fable "Animal Farm". Turn a barnyard novel about totalitarianism into a cartoon? Yes, and he did – but not without a lot of help from the CIA. Read the backstory.





READ ABOUT: Father of the Docudrama 

SEE PHOTOS: Australian Animal Farm Film Collection

"Animal Farm" Film has New Hampshire Connection

War, as a whole new generation of young Americans have discovered, is hell. The bad guys do not line up with Game-Boy simplicity. People die. Reality shifts. Friends become enemies and trust is in short supply.

Animal Farm Video / DVD CoverThe enemies, according to British author George Orwell (1903-1950), are any leaders who usurp the rights of their people. Orwell’s powerful literary vision of the evils of totalitarian rule are fleshed out in his two famous novels, "1984" and "Animal Farm", still popular more than a half century after publication. His vision of "thought crime" and "doublespeak" are familiar concepts today. An "Orwellian" world conjures images of a society without privacy, forever at war, sedated by fear and propaganda and ruled by an all- powerful Big Brother posing as a benevolent leader on a crusade for peace.

That may sound like the latest news from CNN, but the topic here is the Cold War. In 1953 a New Hampshire film director worked with the CIA to spread American cultural propaganda throughout Communist countries. The link between novelist George Orwell and filmmaker Louis de Rochemont is as sneaky as a wiretap and rarely told.

With "Animal Farm" published in 1945, Orwell used the allegory of a barnyard society to satirize the dangers of Communist Russia following the 1917 Revolution. Beaten and starved by an abusive farmer, the animals are lead by the intelligent pigs to take over the farm and drive the evil Mr. Jones away. They set up a socialist society in which all animals are equal and define a clear code – four legs good, two legs bad. But factions soon form. Napoleon, a pig caricature of Joseph Stalin, uses fierce farm dogs to drive out the more benevolent pig leader Snowball, representing Leon Trotsky. In the end, Napoleon and his fascist pigs move into the farmhouse and become as evil as the two-legged Mr. Jones. One evil replaces another.


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Tuesday, February 20, 2018 
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