Pigs rule! At least, in this world based on the classic parody created by novelist George Orwell, in which barnyard animals mount a revolution, oust their cruel farmer and turn his farm into a collective to serve their needs. However, the pigs getthe upper hand in this breakthrough society and soon the other creatures find themselves enslaved to serve these new masters, crueler then the previous one. After the technical achievement of Babe, it was inevitable that "talking animal" effects would be applied to the serious themes of George Orwell's Animal Farm. A bitterly satirical indictment of Stalinist Russia and the failure of Communism, Orwell's 1945 novel is a time-honored classic, so it's only fitting that this TNT production remains largely faithful to Orwell's potent narrative. A showcase for the impressive creations of Jim Henson's Creature Shop (where director John Stephenson was a veteran supervisor), the film employs animatronic critters and computer animation to tell the story of uprising, unity, and tragic rebellion among the animals of a British farm.
The politics of "Animalism" are initially effective, ousting enemy humans according to rules ordained by Old Major, the barnyard pig whose death sets the stage for the corruptive influence of the pig Napoleon, who cites superior intelligence as his right to superiority. This tyrannical reign destroys the farm's stability, and the film--decidedly not for young children--preserves Orwell's dark, cynical view of absolute power corrupting absolutely. Particularly effective is a propaganda film shown to the barnyard collective, and certain scenes--while not as impressive as the Babe films--powerfully convey the force of Orwell's story through animal "performance." Animal Farm occasionally falters in its emotional impact (the fate of the horse Boxer should be heart-rending, and it isn't), but it's certainly blessed with an elite voice cast, including Peter Ustinov, Patrick Stewart, Pete Postlethwaite, Julia Ormond, Kelsey Grammer, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Paul Scofield, and Ian Holm. Not the masterpiece it might've been, this is nevertheless a worthy representation of Orwell's novel. (Ages 8 and older) -- Hallmark & Jeff Shannon / Amazon.com
TNT's Animal Farm seen by some 30 million viewers
October 27, 1999
Acclaimed Hallmark Entertainment Production Scores 12.8 Gross Rating Points Across Eight Plays
Turner Network Television's (TNT) critically acclaimed Original film ANIMAL FARM was seen by some 30 million different viewers 2+ and grossed 12.8 household rating points across its eight plays during October. ANIMAL FARM is the highest-rated original movie on basic cable this month to date.
The film's October 3, 8 p.m. ET/PT, premiere performance was basic cable's top-rated and most-watched movie for the week* (4.2 premiere rating/3.2 million households), and the number-one movie on basic cable in the delivery of adults 18-49 (2,620,000) and adults 25-54 (2,643,000).ANIMAL FARM, a Hallmark Entertainment co-production with TNT, executive-produced by Robert Halmi, Sr., is the film adaptation of George Orwell's seminal novel. The Original film features state-of-the-art animatronic technology developed by Jim Henson's Creature Shop and a cast of hundreds of live animals. The film stars Pete Postlethwaite as Farmer Jones, with the voices of Sir Peter Ustinov, Patrick Stewart, Julia Louis-Dreyfuss, Julia Ormond, Ian Holm, Paul Scofield and Kelsey Grammer.
Turner Network Television, currently seen in 76.7 million homes, is Turner Broadcasting System, Inc.'s 24-hour, advertiser-supported service offering original motion pictures and miniseries, contemporary films from the world's largest film library; the combined Turner and Warner Bros. film libraries; exciting NBA sports action; exclusive coverage of both the 2000 Winter and 2001 Summer Goodwill Games, and popular television series.
*(Week of September 27 - October 4, 1999)
Source: Turner Entertainment Research from Nielsen Media Research. (Week of October 18 - October 24, 1999)