Halas & Batchelor Cartoon Films occupies a unique place in British cinema. The studio was formed in 1940 and produced films for the next fifty years. It was the country's largest and most influential producer of animated films from the early 40s until the mid 70s. Throughout its history, it was always pioneering new styles and techniques.
The studio was also renowned for discovering and nurturing new talent; indeed, a list of the artists who started their careers at Halas & Batchelor reads like a Who’s Who of British and European animation. Although Animal Farm remains the most famous of Halas & Batchelor's films, they produced over two thousand others, from entertainment films to documentaries, and TV series to experimental art movies.
By 1950 the studio had made over 100 films, two of which were features. Their unique ability to produce longer works, for an adult audience, created not only a new genre of animation, but gave them the necessary experience for making Animal Farm, their best-known work. Adapted from George Orwell's classic book, Animal Farm was released in 1954, and won critical acclaim worldwide.
From that time Halas and Batchelor grew into one of the largest animation studios in Europe, producing all kinds of animated films, from commercials and television series, to art movies and experimental films. Over the years that John and Joy collaborated, Joy wrote literally hundreds of scripts, and was the driving force behind most of the work. Her feature film, Ruddigore, made in 1964, was the first animated operetta, perfectly capturing the tongue in cheek quality of its creators, Gilbert and Sullivan.
After the death of Joy Batchelor in 1991, John Halas continued to produce films until his death in 1995. His last ever production was a projected series of 12 films about the European Union of which one stands out, Know Your Europeans UK 1995 which was made by Bob Godfrey.
Timeline of studio
Find out more
This history gives an overview of the studio's work so if you are interested in finding out more please read our book on the studio, Halas & Batchelor Cartoons, an animated history, and A Moving Image, Joy Batchelor 1914-91, Artist, Writer and Animator. Both available from our