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Starring: James Cromwell, Magda Szubanski, Hugo Weaving, Miriam Flynn and Christine Cavanaugh
Farmer Hoggett wins a runt piglet at a local fair and young Babe, as the piglet decides to call himself, befriends and learns about all the other creatures on the farm. He becomes special friends with one of the sheepdogs, Fly. With Fly's help, and Farmer Hoggett's intuition, Babe embarks on a career in sheepherding with some surprising and spectacular results.
I am not a lover of animals. I don't hate them or want to see any harm of animals. It's just that I never had any feeling towards them in any way, except that I think dogs are perhaps a little overrated. I don't think I would ever have an animal as a pet myself. Maybe a fish as I love looking at fish tanks.
So when an old girlfriend suggested I watch this movie called BABE in the mid-1990s, I was up for it initially as I thought it was another version of The Babe Ruth Story as she knew I was a big baseball fan. So she popped the videotape in the machine (what we used to do to watch films at home in the old days) and started watching it. At first I was very curious what was going on as I knew Babe Ruth grew up in the city streets of Baltimore and NOT a pig farm. But I kept watching.
90 minutes later I had tears down my eyes of both laughter and sadness. I couldn't believe what a terrific film I just saw about a little pig learning to survive and grow up on a small farm. This film had everything and I mean everything! It was just a heartwarming film without using any of the hokey tricks that are used in today's films. I was absolutely shocked how good this film was. Babe is perhaps the most genuine movie made in the 1990s.
And it made me a fan of animals for the first time!
So 15 years later I was glad to see that Joshua Starnes put BABE on his list of the top 100 movies of all-time list. It was an excuse to watch it again for this Website and boy was I glad I did as I think I liked it ever better this time around. When you watch a film almost two decades after it was made and it stands the test of time and is perhaps an even better movie to see in today's world, that's when you know that you have yourself a classic movie. As the cliche goes - Like a fine wine aging to perfection. Sometimes this happens with movies too.
What makes BABE so good is that it's very clever while also being very simple at the same time. It's a G-rated movie made for both kids and adults that mixes life lessons and insights with the charm of seeing a little pig trying to function on a farm. Of course adults know, and probably most kids also know by the time they turn 8 or 9, that pigs are raised to be killed and eaten by us. That's basically their sole purpose in life. So the first conflict of the film is rooting against BABE getting killed by the farmer for Christmas dinner. Then another conflict and situation occurs (you don't think they will actually kill the main character in a G-rated film, do you?) which has to do with dogs and sheep herding. A fun little plot that concludes the film.
Which raises the question to us humans? Many people like this film a lot. We love BABE and everything he represents and we will root for him to succeed in any situation he gets himself into. But at the same time most of us will eat some sort of pig either at breakfast, lunch or dinner at least twice in an average week. So we root for a character that many of us eat a lot of the time. That's an interesting sociological riddle to examine when you have some downtime in your daily routine. Or something to not think about at all and basically go about your life.
Why do we love BABE so much? Well, if you look at the history of storytelling of any field, we humans seem to really like characters that confront their conflicts head on and face their fears head on too. And that's what BABE does! He's also a very curious pig and wonders why things are the way they are as he questions his world's conventions. A trait that all of us also seem to like an awful lot in the history of storytelling too.
So he's brave and he's also an individual. No matter if you're an alien, a human being, or a pig - these are two traits that we all love to see in our stories.
Perhaps we love these traits so much because most of us don't have these traits but would really like to have them in our own life. It all comes down to FEAR. We don't encounter situations or question things because we are generally scared to do so because more conflict can arise from it. But we love to watch others do what we wish we could do. And at its heart, that's what we love about this little pig (that most of us eats on a daily basis) living on this tiny Australian farm.
Throw in Babe's personally with the charming and comedic tone and setting that the filmmaker's created, you have yourself a classic film that kids should be watching for generations to come.
Love this film. I can't wait to show it to my own kids when I get around to falling in love with someone and then pro-creating with her.