Andy Serkis’ interpretation of the George Orwell classic Animal Farm has been picked up by Netflix. Serkis has Matt Reeves (Planet of the Apes) on board to produce.
First published in 1945, Animal Farm details an entire farm of animals’ revolution against Farmer Jones, an analogy of the October 1917 Bolshevik Revolution. The Battle of the Cowshed has been said to represent the allied invasion of Soviet Russia in 1918, and the defeat of the White Russians in the Russian Civil War.
Orwell biographer Jeffrey Meyers has written, “virtually every detail has political significance in this allegory.” Orwell himself wrote in 1946, “Of course I intended it primarily as a satire on the Russian revolution..[and] that kind of revolution (violent conspiratorial revolution, led by unconsciously power hungry people) can only lead to a change of masters [-] revolutions only effect a radical improvement when the masses are alert.” In a preface for a 1947 Ukrainian edition, he stated, “… for the past ten years I have been convinced that the destruction of the Soviet myth was essential if we wanted a revival of the socialist movement. On my return from Spain [in 1937] I thought of exposing the Soviet myth in a story that could be easily understood by almost anyone and which could be easily translated into other languages.”
Animal Farm has been adapted for film and TV a number of times previously, including the 1954 animated version and the 1999 live action TV version (which was toned down in a lot of ways). Here is hoping that Serkis can capture all of Orwell’s vision.