Andy Serkis, the actor best known for being the only person to make performance capture work, has decided to become a director. Normally I would applaud this, because I think Serkis is a standup guy (and he has a damn good handshake), but in this case I can’t. I really, really can’t. Why not? Because for his debut film, Serkis will be creating a family-friendly version of George Orwell’s novella Animal Farm. For those of you unfamiliar with Animal Farm, let me make one thing clear: it’s not for families.
In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Serkis said, “We’re keeping it fable-istic and [aimed at] a family audience. We are not going to handle the politics in a heavy-handed fashion,” and I have no idea what that means. Although it doesn’t have the same kind of in-your-face political violence that 1984 has, Animal Farm is equally scathing in its political rhetoric. People sometimes joke that everything is just a metaphor for communism, but Animal Farm seriously is a metaphor for communism, and by that I mean Stalinism, which is not necessarily the same thing.
The fact that the film is performance capture is weird, but with Andy Serkis at the helm it’s kind of expected. It would be kind of hard to do a film about barnyard animals without animation of some kind, and that’s what he’s best at. I don’t know that I’ll enjoy watching pigs emote the way humans do, but whatever.
There are more interesting things about the project at the source links, but I don’t think I can get behind this. If they want to aim the project at families, why not just do a performance capture remake of Babe? Or Charlotte’s Web? The choice of source material just doesn’t make sense. Maybe they’ll be able to convince people like me who respect the message that Orwell’s story was trying to portray, but they’ve got one hell of an uphill battle ahead of them.[THR, via The Playlist]