Babe (film)

Last updated

Babe
Babe ver1.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Chris Noonan
Screenplay by
Based on The Sheep-Pig
by Dick King-Smith
Produced by
Starring
Cinematography Andrew Lesnie
Edited by
Music by Nigel Westlake
Production
company
Distributed by Universal Pictures
Release date
  • August 4, 1995 (1995-08-04)(United States)
Running time
92 minutes [1]
Countries
  • Australia
  • United States
  • United Kingdom
LanguageEnglish
Budget$30 million
Box office$254.1 million [2]

Babe (also known as Babe the Sheep-Pig in the working title) is a 1995 comedy-drama film directed by Chris Noonan, produced by George Miller and written by both. It is an adaptation of Dick King-Smith's 1983 novel The Sheep-Pig , which tells the story of a farm pig who wants to do the work of a sheepdog. The film is narrated by Roscoe Lee Browne and the main animal characters are played by both real animals and animatronic puppets.

Contents

Babe was filmed in Robertson, New South Wales in 1994 and released theatrically on 4 August 1995, going on to become a critical and commercial success, with several Academy Award nominations. A sequel, Babe: Pig in the City , was released in 25 November 1998 and failed to achieve the same success as the original film. [3]

Plot

Babe, an orphaned piglet, is chosen for a "guess the weight" contest at a county fair. The winning farmer, Arthur Hoggett, brings him home and allows him to stay with a Border Collie named Fly, her mate Rex and their puppies, in the barn.

A duck named Ferdinand, who crows as roosters are said to every morning to wake people so he will be considered useful and be spared from being eaten, persuades Babe to help him destroy the alarm clock that threatens his mission. Despite succeeding in this, they wake Duchess, the Hoggetts' cat, and in the confusion accidentally destroy the living room. At the barn meeting, Rex sternly instructs Babe to stay away from Ferdinand and the house. Sometime later, when Fly's puppies are put up for sale, Babe asks if he can call her his mother.

Christmas brings a visit from the Hoggetts' relatives. Babe is almost chosen for Christmas dinner but Ferdinand's girlfriend Rosanna is picked instead after Hoggett remarks to his wife Esme that Babe may bring a prize for ham at the next county fair. On Christmas Day, Ferdinand is devastated when Rosanna is cooked for Christmas dinner and he flees the farm. Meanwhile, Babe justifies his existence by alerting Hoggett to sheep rustlers stealing sheep from one of the fields. The next day, Hoggett sees Babe sort the hens, separating the brown from the white ones. Impressed, he takes him to the fields and allows him to try and herd the sheep. Encouraged by an elder ewe named Maa, the sheep cooperate, but Rex perceives Babe's actions as an insult to sheepdogs and confronts Fly in a vicious fight for encouraging Babe. He injures her leg and accidentally bites Hoggett's hand when he tries to intervene. Rex is then chained to the dog house, muzzled and sedated, leaving the sheep herding job to Babe.

One morning, Babe finds a trio of feral dogs attacking the sheep. Although he manages to scare them off, Maa is mortally injured and dies as a result. Hoggett arrives and, thinking that Babe killed her, prepares to shoot him. Fly is so anxious to find out whether he is guilty or innocent that, instead of barking orders at the sheep, she talks to them to find out what happened. Learning the truth, she barks to distract Hoggett, delaying him until Esme informs him about the dogs' attacks on neighboring farms she learned from the authorities and asks him why he has taken his shotgun out.

When Esme leaves on a trip, Hoggett signs Babe up for a local sheepherding competition. As it is raining the night before, Hoggett lets him and Fly into the house. However, Duchess scratches him when he tries to speak to her, so Hoggett immediately confines her outside. When she is let back in later, she gets revenge on Babe by revealing that humans eat pigs. Horrified, he runs out to the barn and learns from Fly that this is true. The next morning, Fly discovers that Babe has run away. She and Rex alert Hoggett and they all search for him. Rex finds him in a cemetery and Hoggett brings him home. However, he is still demoralized and refuses to eat. Hoggett gives him a drink from a baby bottle, sings to him "If I Had Words" and dances a jig for him. This restores Babe's faith in Hoggett's affection and he begins eating again.

At the competition, Babe meets the sheep that he will be herding, but they ignore his attempts to speak to them. As Hoggett is criticized by the bemused judges and ridiculed by the public for using a pig instead of a dog, Rex runs back to the farm to ask the sheep what to do. They give him a secret password, first extracting a promise that he will treat them better from now on. He returns in time to convey the password to Babe, and the sheep now follow his instructions flawlessly. Amid the crowd's acclamation, he is unanimously given the highest score. While he sits down next to the farmer, Hoggett praises him with the standard command to sheep dogs that their job is done, "That'll do, Pig. That'll do."

Cast

The puppies were voiced by Ross Bagley, Gemini Barnett, Rachel Davey, Debi Derryberry, Courtland Mead, Jazz Raycole, and Kevin Woods.

The sheep were voiced by Jane Alden, Kimberly Bailey, Patrika Darbo, Michelle Davison, Julie Forsyth, Maeve Germaine, Rosanna Huffman, Carlyle King, Tina Lifford, Genni Nevinson, Linda Phillips, Paige Pollack, and Kerry Walker.

Production

Babe is an adaptation of Dick King-Smith's 1983 novel The Sheep-Pig , also known as Babe: The Gallant Pig in the US, which tells the story of a pig raised as livestock who wants to do the work of a sheepdog. The main animal characters are played by a combination of real and animatronic pigs and Border Collies. [4] The breed of pig used was a Large White, which grows rapidly. On account of this, 46 piglets of the required size were used during the course of the filming, [5] as well as the animatronic model for special effects.

The film is divided into six chapters to preserve the storybook-like feel of the original novel (although none of the film's chapters are the same as the book's). The film's mice characters were subsequently added to read the chapters aloud after a test screening in which producer George Miller noted that younger audiences had trouble reading them, needing help from the adults.

After seven years of development, [6] Babe was filmed in Robertson, New South Wales, Australia. [7] The talking-animal visual effects were done by Rhythm & Hues Studios and Jim Henson's Creature Shop. The film was both a box office and critical success, grossing $254 million worldwide and earning seven Oscar nominations, including a win for Best Visual Effects.

According to actor James Cromwell, there was tension on the set between producer George Miller and director Chris Noonan. [8] Noonan later complained, "I don't want to make a lifelong enemy of George Miller but I thought that he tried to take credit for Babe, tried to exclude me from any credit, and it made me very insecure... It was like your guru has told you that you are no good and that is really disconcerting." [9]

Miller shot back, "Chris said something that is defamatory: that I took his name off the credits on internet sites, which is just absolutely untrue. You know, I'm sorry but I really have a lot more to do with my life than worry about that... when it comes to Babe, the vision was handed to Chris on a plate." [10]

In 1998, a sequel directed by Miller, Babe: Pig in the City , was released. In 2006, a video game of the same name based on the film, was published by Mastertronic for the PlayStation 2. [11]

Music

The musical score for Babe was composed by Nigel Westlake and performed by the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra. Classical orchestral music by 19th-century French composers is used throughout the film, but is disguised in a variety of ways and often integrated by Westlake into his score. The theme song "If I Had Words" (lyrics by Jonathan Hodge), sung by Hoggett near the film's conclusion, is an adaptation of the Maestoso final movement of the Organ Symphony by Camille Saint-Saëns, and was originally performed in 1977 by Scott Fitzgerald and Yvonne Keeley. This tune also recurs throughout the film's score. [12]

There are also brief quotations within the score from Edvard Grieg's Lyric Pieces, Op.71 No. 1. Other music featured is by Léo Delibes, Richard Rodgers, Gabriel Fauré, and Georges Bizet.

Reception

The film was a box office success, grossing $36.7 million at the box office in Australia [13] and over $254 million worldwide. [2] It also received critical acclaim and was ultimately nominated for seven Academy Awards, including Best Picture, [14] Best Director, Best Supporting Actor for James Cromwell, Best Screenplay Based on Material Previously Produced or Published, Best Art Direction and Best Film Editing, winning Best Visual Effects. [15] At the APRA Music Awards of 1996 it won Best Film Score for Westlake's work. [16] In 2006, the American Film Institute named Babe #80 on its list of America's Most Inspiring Movies. [17] On review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, the film has an approval rating of 97% based on 70 reviews, with a rating average of 8.26/10. The website's critical consensus reads: "The rare family-friendly feature with a heart as big as its special effects budget, Babe offers timeless entertainment for viewers of all ages." [18] Metacritic gave the film a score of 83 based on 16 reviews, indicating "universal acclaim". [19]

Because of its subject being a piglet, Babe was initially banned from Malaysia in order to avoid upsetting or annoying Muslims (who view pigs as haram). The ruling was overturned almost a year later and the film was released direct to video. [20]

When Babe was released in the US, it is reported that "activists around the country staked out movie theatres with flyers documenting the real-life abuses of pigs". [21] The film had a marked effect on the growth of vegetarianism, particularly among the young. It also promoted a more sympathetic view of the intellectual, emotional and social capacities of animals. [22] James Cromwell became an ethical vegan as a result of starring as Farmer Hoggett, saying, "I decided that to be able to talk about this [movie] with conviction, I needed to become a vegetarian." [23] In 1996 he went on to organize a vegetarian dinner for the Los Angeles homeless at a "Compassionate Christmas" event [24] in order to reverse the barnyard view that "Christmas is carnage".

Accolades

Award ceremonyYearCategoryRecipient(s)ResultRef(s)
Academy Awards 1996 Best Picture George Miller, Doug Mitchell and Bill Miller Nominated [25]
Best Director Chris Noonan Nominated
Best Supporting Actor James Cromwell Nominated
Best Adapted Screenplay George Miller and Chris Noonan Nominated
Best Art Direction Art Direction: Roger Ford; Set Decoration: Kerrie Brown Nominated
Best Film Editing Marcus D'Arcy and Jay Friedkin Nominated
Best Visual Effects Scott E. Anderson, Charles Gibson, Neal Scanlan and John Cox Won
Australasian Performing Right Association Awards 1996 Best Film Score Nigel Westlake Won [16]
Australian Cinematographers Society Awards 1996Cinematographer of the Year Andrew Lesnie Won [26]
British Academy Film Awards 1996 Best Film George Miller, Doug Mitchell, Bill Miller and Chris Noonan Nominated [27]
Best Adapted Screenplay George Miller and Chris Noonan Nominated
Best Editing Marcus D'Arcy and Jay Friedkin Nominated
Best Special Visual Effects Scott E. Anderson, Neal Scanlan, John Cox, Chris Chitty and Charles Gibson Nominated
British Comedy Awards 1996Best Comedy FilmBabeWon [28]
Chlotrudis Awards 1996Best MovieBabeNominated [29]
Best Supporting Actor James Cromwell Nominated
Critics' Choice Movie Awards 1996 Best Family Film BabeWon [30]
Film Critics Circle of Australia Awards 1997Best Director Chris Noonan Won [31]
Best Original Music Nigel Westlake Won
Golden Globe Awards 1996 Best Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy George Miller and Doug Mitchell Won [32]
London Film Critics' Circle Awards 1996 Film of the Year BabeWon [33]
International Newcomer of the Year Chris Noonan Won [34]
National Society of Film Critics Awards 1996 Best Film BabeWon [35]
New York Film Critics Circle Awards 1995 Best New Director Chris Noonan Won [36]
Nickelodeon Kids' Choice Awards 1996 Favorite Animal StarBabe the PigNominated [37]
Saturn Awards 1996 Best Fantasy Film BabeWon [38]
Best Writing George Miller and Chris Noonan Nominated
Writers Guild of America Awards 1996 Best Adapted Screenplay George Miller and Chris Noonan Nominated [39]

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