Motion capture virtuoso and beloved actor Andy Serkis is reportedly set to direct a new animated feature film adapting one of the few essential satires of the 21st century: George Orwell’s Animal Farm. Serkis will direct the film at UK VFX studio Cinesite, working from a screenplay by Nick Stoller.
“The challenging journey to bring this extraordinary story to the screen has been finally rewarded by the opportunity to partner with the brilliant team at Aniventure and Cinesite,” said Serkis in a statement. “Together we hope to make our version of Orwell’s ever relevant masterpiece, emotionally powerful, humorous, and relatable for all ages. A tale not only for our times, but for generations to come.”
Judging by Serkis’ previous approach to a title like The Jungle Book, one would think his Animal Farm would be only mildly “humorous,” if at all. The take on Mowgli: Legend of the Jungle in 2018 was somewhat divisive for its dark and violent tone, along with the choice to anthropomorphize the faces of the animals to blend them with the features of the voice actors lending their performance. An animated Animal Farm, meanwhile, would obviously require another top-tier list of vocal talent, and one wonders if Serkis would make the same decisions. Of course, probably nothing he could do would ultimately look as purely creepy as the oddball 1999 live action adaptation of Animal Farm, with its terrifying animatronic pigs.
Animal Farm is of course Orwell’s allegorical satire on the rise of totalitarianism and Stalinism in Russia, in which a group of hardworking animals manage to overthrow their human captors, only to find that their own leaders have many of the same terrible qualities. It was first published in 1945, and has been a mainstay of high school English literature classes ever since.
It will be interesting to see casting news for this new Animal Farm in particular—it’s a shame John Hurt is no longer with us, as he would have been a perfect voice for the likes of Old Major. In the meantime, enjoy the nightmare-inducing trailer below, for the 1999 version of Animal Farm.