Essay on the Film Adaptation of Animal Farm

Published: 2021-08-11 17:43:03
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Boston College
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The film adaptation of Animal Farm challenges Frederick Engels Principles of Communism, by painting a bleak image of communism through the allegory of a farm that is taken over by the animals. This essay will explore the different depictions of the revolution process between the two texts, as well as the instances of corruption present in Animal Farm, and the extent to which Engels failed to anticipate such problems. While Principles of Communism outlines the revolutionary process in a theoretical question and answer format with several steps, Animal Farm depicts revolution as a desperate and emotional act in response to oppression. Furthermore, Animal Farm demonstrates the pitfalls that arise after the revolution, which was not anticipated by Engels, such as corrupt leadership. The contextual connection between the Manifesto and Animal Farm is the fact that it was an allegory for the Russian revolution, which was inspired by the ideas of the Communist Manifesto.  Whether or not the principles espoused in Principles of Communism more fair is still disputable, and that is why the Manifesto, written 150 years ago, is still read and quoted.   This essay will compare key themes in these two different genre works. It will do this by analysing the different literal techniques and how they are applied to depict the key themes in the two genre works.

Animal Farms depiction of communist revolution as a desperate emotional reaction, challenges Principles of Communisms academic, nuance, and systematic description of the revolution process. The academic language of Principles of Communism in section 17 indicates that communist revolution should be an orderly process. It elaborates that principles of communism encompasses multiple calculated steps, and states that communism cannot be achieved in one stroke, but rather through the the proletarian revolution, transforming existing society gradually and will be able to abolish private property only when the means of production are available in sufficient quantity (Karl Marx and Frederick Engels. 2017, pg. 49). On the other hand, the close shot of the animals eyes as they face-off against farmer Jones, gives the ensuing betrayal of the animals by the farmer demonstrated by their physical looks. For instance, the animals looks to have undergone starvation and anger, which is a clear sign that revolution is not only chaotic but also emotional, a stark contrast against Engels idealised vision, contradicting Engels' assertion that revolution can be an orderly and non-chaotic affair. The technique of presenting the eyes of the animals in a manner, which displays not only their anger but also their hunger, serves to make the audience understand that revolution arises from various social ills such as starvation and betrayal, thereby a ground for chaos meant to change the status quo.

The theme of exploitation is alluded to in Principles of Communism, but it is not predicted as a potential problem in a communist state, but rather a capitalist problem in which the bourgeoisie exploits the working class. In contrast, Animal Farm depicts a corrupt Communist state arising out of the revolution against an exploitative dictator. For instance, the idea of all animals being equal was the cornerstone of the animals legal framework, however, the pigs altered all the seven rules into one self-contradictory rule, which ironically stated, All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others (YouTube. 2017 1:06:45 mins). The author presents the appearance of Benjamin as being not only messy but also abnormally thin. Benjamin is next to the pigs, which literally shows the manner in which some of the animals were suffering on the farm (YouTube, 1:06:12). However, such a scene shows a contrasting effect with that of other animals that are not only standing fat but also proud and having nice clothing. As such, the technique of juxtaposition is used to indicate the inequality of the animals in the same farm. In addition, the pigs began carrying whips and walking like human beings threatening others and reminding them of the new rule. This displays the hypocrisy of the leader Napoleon as he had sworn against such kind of acts when taking over the animal kingdom (YouTube. 2017 00:06:00). While the Communist Manifesto illustrates the theme of exploitation perpetrated by the bourgeoisie exploiting the proletariat, this resulted in clear class segregation. While all the animals belong to the proletarian class, the farmer, and later the pigs join the exploitative communist elite.

To appeal to the workers and inspire them for the resolute actions against the exploiters, the Principles of Communism uses rhetorical literary techniques, such as declamation, boldly stating their examples, evoking the readers emotions: it [bourgeois] has set up that single, unconscionable freedom -- free trade. In one word, for exploitation, veiled by religious and political illusions, it has substituted naked, shameless, direct, brutal exploitation.(Karl Marx and Frederick Engels. 2017, Chapter 1). This exhortation is also used to emphatically urge their audience (the workers) to rise against exploiters: Let the ruling classes tremble at a Communistic revolution. The proletarians have nothing to lose but their chains. .... The same message can be seen in the pigs speech, such as Old Majors speech when he states, all animals are comrades (YouTube 2017:00:31:00) to express the need for unity. Such techniques were meant to invoke the emotions of the followers so that they can come out and act. However, some of the pigs misused the language of revolution for them to gain the trust and following of other animals and after that take advantage of them.

Animal Farms chaotic depiction of revolution reveals the instability caused by removing a leader, no matter how oppressive, and how this creates opportunities for unscrupulous individuals to seize power. The corruption depicted in Animal Farm at the hands of a communist dictatorship presents the reader with a scathing indictment of communist society. As Animal Farm demonstrates, despite the good intentions presented by Communist theorists, revolution against an oppressive leader creates a power-vacuum that will likely be filled by an equally cruel a corrupt dictator.

(Word Count 975)


Karl Marx and Frederick Engels. 2017. Manifesto of the Communist Party. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 20 September 2017].

Frederick Engels. 1847. The Principles of Communism. [ONLINE] Available at: {Accessed 20 September 2017}

YouTube. 2017. Animal Farm (1954) Full 1080p HD - YouTube. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 25 August 2017].


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