Films have helped cheer everyone up of late. So, we’re remembering fondly this 1995 classic. It’s perfect for all ages, no matter how grumpy you are.
Directed by Chris Noonan and produced by George Miller, the two Australians were also responsible for writing the screenplay.
It’s an adaptation of a 1983 novel by Dick King-Smith called The Sheep-Pig.
Right, you probably know the plot. This is a classic of cinema for kids, but we also think anyone of any age can enjoy this. It’s just bloody charming.
Arthur Hoggett is a farmer in rural England. One day, at a fair, he successfully guesses the weight of a piglet. And wins it as a prize.
Not thinking much of that, his wife Esme (Magda Szubanski) plans to fatten the beast up and eat it for a roast dinner.
For the film, on a technical front, production folk had 48 pigs in use for Babe. So, yes, it may look like on pig. But it isn’t.
Now, the story shifts between the human perspective and that of the animals. With the clever use of animatronics, they’re able to move around and chat in a way that’s somewhat anthropomorphic (The Wind in the Willows style).
So, the animals on Hoggett’s farm all chat and discuss things with each other. Babe, as the piglet is called, is voiced by Christine Cavanaugh.
We also have Hugo Weaving as the belligerent sheepdog Rec and Miriam Margolyes as Fly (a Border Collie).
She takes Babe in and rears the piglet, aware that he’s eventually heading towards the oven.
Others are also aware of this fate, such as Ferdinand (Danny Mann) an Indian Runner duck.
In desperation, he’s taken to stealing the job of the farm’s rooster so he has an essential purpose—beyond being Christmas dinner.
So, and to the general dismay/encouragement of others, Babe starts to pursue a dream beyond being a tasty dinner.
After witnessing an unusual incident where Babe was polite to the sheep, so they all serenely marched into their pen, Hoggett thinks the pig could win him top prize at the local sheepherding competition.
This infuriates Rex and convinces the farmer’s wife he’s losing his mind.
As Hoggett’s affection for the pig start to grow (and, for the record, the species’ personality is very much like that of dogs), he views it more than mere meat.
And, in fact, grows severely concerned when Babe becomes ill. Even performing a bit of a jib (Cromwell showing off his acting chops there).
But it is interesting how we view the likes of dogs as “pets” you wouldn’t dare slaughter for food. But pigs etc.? What the hey, gun them on down in the name of tradition!
Nearing competition day and Hoggett enters his “dog”, which he provides a false name for.
Come the day itself and, of course, everyone starts taking the piss out of him. As you would in England. The silly old sod has lost his mind!
But, no! Blow and behold, once Rex acquires a “magic” code for the arbitrary sheep in the competition, Babe is able to win the day.
And that, in the most emphatic fashion imaginable, leads the way to one of the most epic lines in movie history.
We’re going to draw this out a bit for the hell of it. A line so staggering in its brilliance and legendary status, it’ll live on for thousands of years.
This line? “That’ll do, pig.” Damn straight, James Cromwell!
And well, there we go. A film for kids, yes, but certainly a magical experience. We think for anyone of any age.
25 years on and the animatronic effects are still impressive. And there are so many clever, endearing little visual cues as the narrative unfolds.
Plus, the wonderful soundtrack from Nigel Westlake.
The charm of the film is what wins so many people over. What could be such a daft little premise turns into a heartwarming, life-affirming, pig-friendly little experience.
And it was a smash hit! Which is brilliant. Its $30 million budget turned into a $251.1 million earning.
And SEVEN Oscar nominations, although it only won for Best Visual Effects.
Why? Because it’s bloody wonderful film. Twee, admittedly, but so affectionately put together in that approach.
But also… not out of the realms of ALL possibility! Behold this rat monster managing similar things to the 1995 epic.
VOLUME UUUUPPPPPPPPPP pic.twitter.com/jwmUBvK6p8
— Merrin, Just a Jar of Angry Bees (@merrinish) June 10, 2020
Incredible, eh? The power of nature and squealing.
Regardless, returning to the film—the animals are certainly the main stars.
But with James Cromwell’s magnificent central human performance, you have a classic of cinema that’ll lift your spirits.