Cover image for Orwell Subverted: The CIA and the Filming of Animal Farm By Daniel  J. Leab

Orwell Subverted

The CIA and the Filming of Animal Farm

Daniel J. Leab

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$25.95 | Hardcover Edition
ISBN: 978-0-271-02978-8

$24.95 | Paperback Edition
ISBN: 978-0-271-02979-5

232 pages
6" × 9"
10 b&w illustrations
2007

Orwell Subverted

The CIA and the Filming of Animal Farm

Daniel J. Leab

“What emerges in this book is a fascinating study of the complex relationship between the political and cultural imperatives that go into the shaping of a single film. It is difficult to see any other account displacing Leab’s as the definitive historical account of its production and reception. There are many monographs on individual films, but few that demonstrate this level of detail.”

 

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Since its release in 1954, scholars have been aware of the Central Intelligence Agency’s involvement in the making of the controversial animated motion picture adaptation of George Orwell’s Animal Farm. In Orwell Subverted, Daniel Leab gives an authoritative and well-documented account of the CIA’s powerful influence on the film.

Recently, a number of works have been written—notably, those by Frances Stoner Saunders and Tony Shaw—that make reference to the underlying governmental control surrounding Animal Farm. Yet there is still much speculation and confusion as to the depth of the CIA’s interference. Leab continues where these authors left off, exploring the CIA’s dominant hand through extensive research and by giving fascinating details of the agency’s overt and subtle influences on the making of the film. Leab’s thorough investigating makes use of sources that have been excluded in past accounts, such as CIA papers retrieved through the Freedom of Information Act and material from the Orwell Archive. He also incorporates the testimonials of animators John Halas and Joy Batchelor and, most significantly, the previously unexplored archive documents of Animal Farm producer Louis de Rochemont.

“What emerges in this book is a fascinating study of the complex relationship between the political and cultural imperatives that go into the shaping of a single film. It is difficult to see any other account displacing Leab’s as the definitive historical account of its production and reception. There are many monographs on individual films, but few that demonstrate this level of detail.”
“A first-rate book. Orwell Subverted breaks entirely new ground in its thorough treatment of the role of the American filmmaker Louis de Rochemont in the story of the filming and distribution of Animal Farm.”
“The book has all the suspense of a thriller, though the final chapter lacks that genre’s satisfactory tying off of all loose ends. Nevertheless, this is such a thorough, convincing, and entertaining telling of its chosen tale that it seems unlikely to be readily superseded.”
“Leab, editor of the journal American Communist History and author of I Was a Communist for the FBI and many articles on Hollywood’s Cold War films, knows this period well. His thorough research uncovered correspondence and financial information in archives in both the United States and England that allowed him to compile the most complete account to date of the film’s production.”

Daniel J. Leab is Professor of History at Seton Hall University. He is the author of several books, including I Was a Communist for the FBI: The Unhappy Life and Times of Matt Cvetic (Penn State, 2000).

Contents

Foreword by Peter Davison, OBE

Preface

Acknowledgments

1. Orwell and Animal Farm

2. OPC, the Sponsoring Agency

3. The Producer, Louis de Rochemont

4. Genesis, and Getting Right with Sonia Orwell

5. The Animators, Halas and Batchelor

6. Creating Animal Farm, the Movie

7. Envisioning a Politically Correct Film Version of Animal Farm

8. The Politics of Filming Animal Farm

9. Finalizing a Politically Correct Film Version of Animal Farm

10. Reception of the Film

11. The Afterlife of the Film and Its Creators

12. Propaganda and Propagandists

Notes

Bibliography

Index

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