Film

Film

by

This placid 1954 Brit cartoonization of Orwell was revealed in 1999 to have been covertly funded, produced, and de-Orwellized by the E. Howard Hunt-era C.I.A.—the first but probably not the last-to-be-uncovered instance of aesthetic black ops in cinema history. (Supposedly the Michael Anderson version of 1984, made a few years later, can credit its incongruously upbeat ending to Hunt’s team as well.) With its pro-capitalist slant and ludicrous happy ending, the film serves today as less of a political parable gone wrong than as a living tissue sample of idiotic Cold War skullduggery. The animation is slight, but this is a unique window on the cultural daisy chain between artist, government, and audience, essentially created by the same totalitarian instincts that it seeks to critique. Triangulate it between the original novella and the truer, graver TNT-Henson version (also unleashed in 1999), and a subtext-cluttered vision of post-war fear and loathing coalesces. A stormy half-century later, the DVD includes storyboards, a commentary, and a 30-minute making-of featurette.