News+and+politics religion philosophy the cynic librarian: Big Brother Does Orwell in the Ass

Friday, March 10, 2006

Big Brother Does Orwell in the Ass

In what has to be one the stranger ironies of the Cold War, the CIA bought the rights to George Orwell's book, Animal Farm, after he died. It seems that they were worried about how Orwell depicted Big Brother Capitalism. Therefore, the 1955 movie version of the book got twisted into the version that the CIA wanted to disseminate, making Big Brother Capitalism seem better than Big Brother Communism. ...

According to Defense Tech:

So the Memory Hole has posted a list of movies made or used by the CIA. Some have titles you'd expect: "Ear Wiretapping -- Bugging Devices," "Investigation of US Bacteriological Warfare." Others seem out of place, like "Animal Farm," the animated version of the Orwell classic.

But, as Nick reminded me the other day, no one should be surprised to see to find "Animal Farm" on the list. After all, the Agency bought the movie rights to the book, a long time back. Nick dug up a Times article for 2000, which explains:
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.

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