Animal Farm | Chicago Reader

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With its animatronic technology, this live-action 1999 adaptation of George Orwell's political parable has a leg up on the 1955 animated version, though one might argue that its analogy to the Russian Revolution and the rise of Stalin is more dated. The story itself, told in flashback by the sheepdog Jessie, seems more immediate, as oppressed animals rebel against the farm's indolent owners only to be betrayed by their own leaders, and director John Stephenson cleverly mimics the iconography of Leni Riefenstahl for some scenes. Despite its clunky editing and caricatured performances (by Pete Postlethwaite, among others), this is a credible, visually captivating update. With the voices of Julia Ormond, Kelsey Grammer, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, and Patrick Stewart. 91 min.

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