An English writer by the name of George Orwell published a book in 1943, called Animal Farm. In the eyes of Mr. Orwell, the sole purpose of the book was to expose the Soviet myth of Russia's acclaimed socialist utopia in a way that almost anyone can comprehend. The simplicity of language in the book and the usage of animals to convey the message made it a prime candidate for a cartoon version and thus one was created. This essay will look at the differences between the book Animal Farm and it's cartoon adaptation.
The three criteria which will be used as a basis of comparison are: characterization, exposition and theme. The book Animal Farm, is an allegory of the Russian Revolution of 1917 and the events that followed shortly after. In order for the reader to be able to get a firm grasp on the conditions in Russia before, during and after the revolution, George Orwell took great care in ensuring that the all the characters in the book could easily be identified with their Russian revolution counterpart. While reading the book, one should easily be able tell the parallel personality for each character because of George Orwell's very accurate descriptions of the characters. As a result, a great deal of characterization is visible in most parts of the book, as he is constantly building upon the characters. The movie Animal Farm on the other hand is quite different.
In the movie, very little time (relative to the book) is spent on developing the characters. In some instances during the movie we discover that there are some characters in the book that are not mentioned in the movie (e. g. Molly and Mrs. Jones). Also, in Animal Farm the movie, there is little dialogue among the animals, unlike the book.
In the book, it is this dialogue that really helps us understand the type of regime in Russia at the time. If someone were to watch the movie but never read the book, it would probably be a lot harder to see the relationship to the Russian revolution. In the book, some of the instances that occur in Animal Farms exposition play important roles later on in the book. At the start of the book you are introduced to a flurry of thoughts and ideas that are very instrumental throughout the remainder of the book. The exposition begins with Old Major, telling the animals of a dream he has in which all animals are free from the oppressive human regime and equal amongst each other. He is a prophet, planting the seeds of rebellion in the minds of the animals that have gathered around to listen to what he has to say.
It is this powerful speech that is the catalyst for the animal revolution which occurs not too long after. In the exposition, they also sing the song 'Beasts of England', which becomes their national anthem and it is sung throughout the book, playing an important role later on in the book. There are many other things which occur in the exposition that become important symbolisms as the book progresses. The exposition in Animal Farm the movie is the same as the books in terms of plot, but it is different in many other ways. One must remember that the movie is merely and adaptation of the book into film, so almost all the events that take place in the book will take place in the movie.
This is the case with the exposition, yet many other key differences can be seen between the two. Firstly, exposition seemed to rush through some of the events which are very important later on in the book. For example, in the books exposition, Orwell describes many of the animals that are important to the book. In the movie's exposition, very little time is spent on developing the characters of the important animals. Also, the song 'Beasts of England' is not sung in the exposition, unlike the book. Reiterating the statement in the last paragraph, this song plays a very pivotal role later on in the book.
While reading the book, one soon begins to fell sympathetic towards the animals on Animal Farm. In the movie, it is harder for the audience to feel as sympathetic as they may in the book because they don't know the characters very well. Animal Farms' theme is very apparent at the end of the book. The theme is that ' it is impossible to attain a form of Utopia in which everyone is equal and treated fairly'. This theme is further solidified by its usage of events which mirror those of the Russian revolution.
The theme is fully realized right at the end of the book, when the rest of the animals are segregated from the pigs, who are in the former house of Mr. Jones, drinking alcohol with the humans. Just this one scenario blatantly defies everything the animals stood for when they first had the revolution, and the reasons they had it in the first place. The ending of the book is so blunt that the point George Orwell is trying to make hits you like a ton of bricks, and you can truly see how flawed the animals were in their notions of living in a Utopia.
From only watching the movie, I sincerely doubt that one would grasp the message that George Orwell was trying to send as fully as one would if he / she read the book. There are numerous reasons for this (only two of these are going to be mentioned as the others are either quite insignificant or they don't relate directly to the theme), one of the most significant of which is that a movie doesn't have a books capacity to pay attention to detail. This is very important in a book such as Animal Farm, fore, in order for one to get Orwell's message, one has to be able to empathize with the animals at some level. The book explains in detail the harsh and unjust conditions of the other animals, making it easy to empathize with them, unlike the movie, which merely paints a scant picture of what the animals are going through. The other, more obvious reason for why one may get a different message from watching the movie is that the endings are completely different.
As mentioned previously, it is the ending of the book that really drives Orwell's point home. In the movie, this isn't the case at all. At the end of the movie, animals all over the country come together and incite revolution once again, but this time it is against the pigs. They can't stand the conditions they have been subjected to and therefore decide to rebel again, for the same principle as the first revolution against the humans.
This confuses the audience with different possibilities for a theme. The theme may be that the quest for a Utopia is just a vicious cycle of revolutions, leading nowhere. The other is may be that one can never give up hope for a Utopia and must keep trying, even if it means more revolutions. In the book, there is no revolution against the pigs, the other animals are doomed to a life of misery, with no hope.
I think that this would make the first theme the more acceptable one, but still not the same as the theme conveyed by George Orwell in the book. It's quite apparent that there are many significant differences between Animal Farm the book and it's film adaptation. There are a number of differences between the use of characterization and the exposition, but the most important one is the difference in the theme. George Orwell's sole purpose in writing this book was to expose to the world Russia's mythical socialist utopia for what it really was, an oppressive regime in which the doctrines of socialist utopianism were completely disregarded. He wants the reader to know that the theory of a country in which everyone is equal, free and happy is but an illusion, a deception of reality, which is, that 'power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely'.
That once tainted with the feeling of power, most will stoop to any level, and do whatever the cost to maintain that power. In my opinion, this idea isn't properly presented in the movie and thus hinders the powerful message that George Orwell was trying to send to people all over the world.