After watching the film, Animal Farm recently, I decided to review it further and look to the links it has with real life events.
The film Animal Farm is one based on the book by George Orwell and is written soon after the end of the Second World War. It illustrates Orwell’s views and hate towards the socialist movements and the figures such as Napoleon, and he cleverly illustrates these views through the use of animals on a farm, Manor Farm.
As pictured above, the story opens with the Major, who in this instance is the Karl Marx of the story. Marx of course was the man behind the Marxist beliefs, which would allow for the proletariat to overcome the bourgeoisie. In this instance, it is the Major, the head pig spreading his beliefs to the rest of the farm-yard, telling them to overcome the hardships of the current regime. As well all know, Marx wanted to implement these beliefs upon a city like Germany, an Industrialised Town where this sort of thing could happen.
Mr Jones- Tsar Nicholas II
Orwell illustrates the old regime through the character Mr Jones, a drunken farmer who has no real idea on what he is doing, and neglects his farm-yard. This it was believed was to illustrate Tsar Nicholas II, a Tsar who come 1917 was very much an unpopular figure within Russia due to the fact that he could not command his people properly, as well as being able to bring Russia forward and up to date with other countries in the west. As seen in Animal Farm as in real life, Mr Jones like Nick was overthrown by his people, and in Russia this culminated in the Russian Revolution in 1917. After the fall of the Major the animals led under Snowball (who bears great resemblance to Lenin), led the uprising against Mr Jones and his fellow friends (a move which could illustrate the Russian Civil War of the Whites vs the Reds 1918-1922).
Other than the fact that neither have hair, Snowball bears resemblance to Lenin/Trotsky ideas
Although it was believed that Snowball did resemble Trotsky, I would argue more on how he was Lenin through the fact that he had drawn up ideas, and then during the Civil War was injured (Lenin wasn’t injured direct through the Civil War but did have health issues). In the film we see Snowball’s ideas being dictated to the animals of the farmyard, and it is interesting to see how Orwell uses the character and the use of pigs to illustrate the communist party as being greedy and only thinking of themselves instead of everybody else. Through Snowball we see an insight into just how life in the Soviet Union was for the workers, and how Lenin used the cover of working for the people as in actual fact a dictatorship and hardship. This is further illustrated through the fact that all the animals are made to work from dawn to dusk and the pigs give the other animals scythes, the tool in the logo of the Soviet Union, to do the work. It is a point further highlighted by the fact that Boxer the horse is worked to his full potential. Workers in the Soviet Union had no rights and were made to work to the best of their ability, so for the bigger stronger people they had to work an awful lot harder than the weaker ones, and everybody had to input into the economy.
Another reason that Snowball illustrates the character of Lenin rather than Trotsky is due to the fact that Snowball carries out the process of Comintern, which was the spread of World Revolution. This was highlighted through the way that Snowball asks the Doves of the farm to fly to other farms and tell the other animals of the benefits of Communism. We are shown that although some animals are repulsed and horrified by the idea, illustrated in the film by the fact that a lamb jumps in a farmers lap and a cat laughing in mockery, we also see that for the countries in hardship which are easily influenced by something like communism due to the fact that as workers they get better rights and a good way of living.
Then of course like in real life, we see Lenin get ill and die, in this case Snowball is run out of the farm by Napoleon, who in this case is illustrating Stalin, who as we know made sure he destroyed all of his opponents. Napoleon in the film then uses Snowball’s ideas after claiming he had been aiming to plot against the farm. As illustrated in the film through Napoleon and his dogs, Napoleon was very much a dictatorship which inflicted a period of harsh reality and pain upon the people of the farm. This is an obvious reflection of Stalin, someone who Orwell makes sure that he is the main villain in this story- illustrated through the quote of ‘ill protect your interests, ill make your decisions’. We also see Napoleon push for the building of the Windmill, which in the wider world illustrates Stalin’s desire for the atomic bomb in order to keep up with the Western Powers due to his paranoia to being taken over.
Stalin (or Napoleon), Squealer (or Molotov) and his dogs
As seen in Russia after this period and in Animal Farm, Stalin put in Collectivisation which made the people or Russia work from dawn till dusk and give everything they had to the economy, in this case in the film it is the Hens giving all their eggs to the pigs so that they can then trade with Mr Whymper who illustrates the Soviet Union’s relations with the West, how the West were perhaps funding the Soviet Union’s actions through giving them goods in return for their materials. The Communist party in this eat well and the other farm animals are on rations. We also see Napoleon undermine all of Lenin’s ideas illustrated through the fact that he and his delegates all sleep in the house, a rule which was disallowed by Snowball, and the fact that if anybody rises up against the pigs, then they are destroyed (the dogs in this case kill the chickens), something which was seen in the Soviet Union through Stalin and his show trials, embarrassing the guilty party and others into giving in and then sent to the Gulags or removed if they were deemed a threat.
This idea that all revolutionaries would be demolished can be seen through the fact that the humans, jealous that the farm is doing well for itself (which can draw some parallels to the west and their involvement in the Russian Civil War). We then see the infamous Windmill blown up much to the horror of Napoleon, and like the atomic bomb this creates a mushroom cloud. Orwell then illustrates the atomic age in which the story was based due to the fact that he has Napoleon push his people into making another windmill. This can be linked to the fact that Stalin and even Khrushchev later on pushed for more atomic weapons so that they could keep up with the west and be able to protect themselves from the west.
The Mushroom Cloud of the Windmill and of the US Atomic Bomb
We see the hardships of the regime under Napoleon and this point is further highlighted through the fact that the horse, Boxer is hurt whilst working on the new Atomic Bomb. This then leads to Napoleon allowing him to be made into glue due to the fact that he was no longer useful to the regime and the building. At this time Orwell highlights that the cracks are showing in the country and people were getting restless. Then in later years we see a society in which the farm is surrounded by barbed wire, and there is no way out for the animals. We then see more pigs from other Communist areas coming into the farm, where they announce that they are better than the other animals and should continue doing so.
Animal Farm ends with the other animals seeing that the pigs are in fact no different to the past regime and the greater good is in fact not as good as they thought. Although this did not really happen in Orwell’s period, it was seen in later years through Gorbachev and his reforms to try to end the Cold War conflict and make communism better for the people. But as a piece of work, this story and film very much illustrated the views of the people at the time. Orwell was living in a society in which people didn’t trust the Soviet’s or communism. But it did very much illustrate how communism was perceived this side of the Atlantic and how people felt that Stalin and Lenin did act. The cartoon itself was shown to children and in the west, it would have made sure that children realised from a young age just who the enemies are. Therefore as a piece of historical evidence, it is very much interesting to see just how media was used to influence even young children to realise that communism was deemed as bad and wasn’t fair on the people. Although it seemed like a good idea, it would eventually lead to a dictatorship, which is communism major flaw.