A contemporary twist to George Orwell’s ‘Animal Farm’
December 6, 2010

‘All animals are equal but some animals are more equal than others.’

Spoofing George Orwell’s famous novel ‘Animal Farm’ to represent the contemporary geo-political state of affairs, especially the emergence of the New World Order, Farhat Ajnabi’s documentary ‘The Elephant and the Dragon’ (TEATD), raised eyebrows at the Short Film Centre (SFC) of the 41st International Film Festival of India (IFFI).

The film travels between the British Empire of old and the aging and assisted society that is Europe today. Between the exploited India and humiliated China of the 19th century and the global economic powerhouses they are now. And from America-Superpower to America-Soon-To-Be-Number -?. A cast of elephants, tigers, dragons, rats, pigs, eagles, sheep, and a host of other animals play out this allegory of a New World Order where a youthful and work-hungry Asia is taking over the Farm.

‘The social relevance of the film is an attempt to depict in a clear, yet light, vein, the many key issues relating to the growth of India and China and the decline of the West as we know it,’ Farhat, a retired Indian Foreign Service (IFS) officer, now settled in Brussels, told IANS.

‘TEATD is intended as a wake-up call and a starting point for a discussion of these issues. And it is particularly aimed at young people from both ‘blocs’ to prepare them for their respective and interwoven futures,’ she added.

‘The West, India, China, past and present; an aging, assisted Europe; an Asia young, eager to work an ironic allegory on the new world order where the elephant and the dragon take power to the new ‘Animal Farm’,’ is Farhat’s summing up of her film, which she co-wrote with her husband Alan Ward.

Composed of a song, media headlines and photos (such as a picture of a big Lakshmi Mittal looking down with obvious disdain at a small President Sarkozy of France), archive documents and images, and filmed sequences to underline the lyrics, the ‘singing pamphlet’ was made with a small budget and with the special help of family and friends who played various parts in the making of the film.

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