Retro Film Review: Babe (1995)

in #aaa2 years ago


Short time ago PETA managed to shoot itself in foot by organising PR campaign that equated mistreatment of animals with Holocaust. Cause of animal rights and vegetarianism could be better served with more subtlety, and one of better examples is Babe, 1995 Australian children's film directed by Chris Noonan. Commercial and critical success of this film was reflected in many of its influence on audience; many viewers have decided to kick the meat out of their menus after watching film about talking pig.

The plot of the film is based on children's book The Sheep Pig by Dick King-Smith. Babe (voice by Christine Cavanaugh) is small piglet whose parents have been taken away in trucks to place known as "hog heaven". Babe has accidentally evaded the same fate and is bought on country fare by farmer Arthur Hoggett (played by James Cromwell). For his wife Esme (played by Magda Szubanski) little Babe is nothing more than future Christmas dinner, but for couple of shepherd dogs he becomes substitute for their lost puppies. As Babe grows, he is taught the subtle art of sheep herding and he gradually realises his potential of sheep pig. This impossible dream is going to be realised with the help of Hoggett.

Babe is not the first film to feature talking animals, but rarely film makers took such efforts to make them convincing. Combination of real and animatronic animals, make up, animation and other innovative film making techniques resulted in really impressive scenes and animals becoming convincing characters. However, the real value of the film is in the content presented with such technology. At first glance, Babe might look like saccharine-like family film, but the script by Chris Noonan and George Miller doesn't shy away from confronting the audience with some less pleasant truths about life on the farm and the ways in which humans satisfy their nutritional needs. Many good actors provide voices, but the most visible is James Cromwell who plays very convincing farmer. Babe could have been even better without singing mice that seem somewhat too cute for this film. But with its positive message of individuals not being constrained by their pre-ordained roles in life, Babe represents entertaining and moving film that could be recommended both to children and adults.

RATING: 7/10 (+++)

(Note: The text in its original form was posted in Usenet newsgroup on April 5th 2003)


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