CIA Produced 1955 Animal Farm Film

Nathan Newman nathan.newman at
Fri Mar 17 08:37:13 PST 2000

Anyone who has ever been outraged by the 1955 Animal Farm film with its distorted ending, this nugget from today's NY TIMES explains why? The CIA literally bought the film rights and got it produced with their chosen pro-Western slant. Apparently, Abstract Expressionism was also a CIA plot. -- NN

March 18, 2000 How the C.I.A. Played Dirty Tricks With Culture By LAURENCE ZUCKERMAN

Many people remember reading George Orwell's "Animal Farm" in high school or college, with its chilling finale in which the farm animals looked back and forth at the tyrannical pigs and the exploitative human farmers but found it "impossible to say which was which."

That ending was altered in the 1955 animated version, which removed the humans, leaving only the nasty pigs. Another example of Hollywood butchering great literature? Yes, but in this case the film's secret producer was the Central Intelligence Agency.

The C.I.A., it seems, was worried that the public might be too influenced by Orwell's pox-on-both-their-houses critique of the capitalist humans and Communist pigs. So after his death in 1950, agents were dispatched (by none other than E. Howard Hunt, later of Watergate fame) to buy the film rights to "Animal Farm" from his widow to make its message more overtly anti-Communist.

Rewriting the end of "Animal Farm" is just one example of the often absurd lengths to which the C.I.A. went, as recounted in a new book, "The Cultural Cold War: The C.I.A. and the World of Arts and Letters" (The New Press) by Frances Stonor Saunders, a British journalist. Published in Britain last summer, the book will appear here next month.

[Also going back to some debates on Gloria Steinem and the CIA, the article notes]:

The C.I.A. recognized from the beginning that it could not openly sponsor artists and intellectuals in Europe because there was so much anti-American feeling there. Instead, it decided to woo intellectuals out of the Soviet orbit by secretly promoting a non-Communist left of democratic socialists disillusioned with Moscow.

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