Orwell Subverted

The CIA and the Filming of Animal Farm

By (author) Daniel J. Leab

Hardback - £20.95

Publication date:

23 February 2007

Length of book:

232 pages


Penn State University Press

ISBN-13: 9780271029788

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.”

—James Chapman, University of Leicester