Since the establishment of this website in the early 18th century, no contributor has ever suggested this most obvious of articles… until now. Maybe it shows that all of our ideas have finally run out, or maybe it shows that sometimes there can be a good article wrestled from something that exists right under your nose.
The list is an odd mix of drama, horror, and family comedy. The “farm” is an incredibly divisive entity that only exists in the movies to either entertain children with the madcap antics of talking animals or to horrify grown-ups with tales of inbred farmers killing and maiming with gay abandon. If this list teaches us anything, it is that the very concept of the “farm” itself is nebulous, and is taken here to mean an isolated plot of land which is habitable and could potentially grow crops, form some kind of product, or to rear animals. The farm can be a metaphor for almost everything in life, and after reading this humble article you will never look at farms in the same way.
The list that follows is not presented in any particular order.
10. Charlotte’s Web
Probably the most horrifying of all the horror movies on this list, Charlotte’s Web is the story of a group of animals who make friends with an evil spider. The spider gets her comeuppance in the end, however, but much like the presence of the island in the hit TV show Lost, the presence of the farm is a constant reminder of where the action is taking place, in terms of time as well as physical space.
9. Texas Chainsaw Massacre
While not a farm in the traditional sense of the term, the locale of the gruesome happenings involving the massacre of a group of Texan teens by a man with a chainsaw is most definitely farmland. The lack of a true, traditional farm is probably a metaphor for the lack of a definite identity for Leatherface, who, much like the farmland he haunts, remains a terrifying, vast character whose mood can never be gauged, aside from whether or not he is cutting into you with his aforementioned tool.
8. Animal Farm
Disney meets Orwell in this, a vicious attack on Stalinism that is mostly responsible for the under-five Socialist movement. The farm represents the collective will and something that works in perfect harmony without the corrupting influence of capitalism (Mr. Pilkington), and that once enough time has passed, maybe a pig will learn to read.
Thumbelina’s parents live on a farm, grow crops, and keep animals. When a kindly magical woman gives her mother a small plant to look after, Thumbelina begins to grow inside the plant. Thus, farms bring life and endless potential to the world, in the form of incredibly small girls who go on to suffer domestic abuse at the hands of mole husbands, but eventually live happily ever after.
The farm in this, Bela Tarr‘s seven hour lecture on the fall of communism, presents the concept of the farm as an incredibly bleak crutch that is close to breaking. A crutch that everybody is desperate to sell, and for some reason a little girl tortures a cat in the middle of it. Still, great film, great farm, and a great crutch, if not a bit depressing. But: no evil spiders.
5. Night of the Living Dead
The zombies represent racism, OK? And the cops at the end. Racism. Everything in this film means racism. The farm where the action takes place, on the other hand, represents the pioneers of the civil rights movement – hidden in plain sight, existing in the USA in a seemingly normal circumstance but, when it’s demanded of them, they become shining fortresses of morality and good.
4. Chicken Run
An apolitical Animal Farm with catapulting eggs instead of catapulting socialist ideas, Chicken Run is about a team of hardy chickens who attempt to overthrow the evil Mrs. Tweedy. The farm is both the prison of the animals and a willing participant in their revenge – it is impassive, flexible to the action-packed whims of wise-cracking chickens.
3. There Will be Blood
One of the best scenes in this film is when Daniel Plainview realises that he forgot to bid more money for the Brady ranch. While a ranch isn’t strictly a farm, it sort of is, and so qualifies for this list. The Bandy ranch is the rock in Plainview’s shoe, the thorn in his side, and the obstacle to his ultimate happiness. He overcomes this obstacle in the end, which goes to show that although our problems may seem huge in that moment and overshadow our entire life, there is a way to eventually see the light.
2. Tucker and Dale vs. Evil
Two hillbillies stumble their way into a survival horror in this smart reversal of traditional movie stereotypes. The farm in this film, or at least their shack on some farmland, represents a millstone around the neck of the two heroes, which causes others to misjudge them as murderous psychopaths. Easily done.
1. Star Wars
Anakin Skywalker, who famously grew up to become James Earl Jones, was born and raised on a farm on the planet Tatooine. His aunt and uncle worked as moisture farmers on the arid planet, and in this instance the farm represents the basic but solid template that gave Skywalker the fortitude and humility to one day work hard enough towards his eventual goal, to become the universe’s most evil man. And maybe, if we were all brought up on farms, we too could become the most evil people in the universe. We can but dream.