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Babe (film)

Theatrical release poster
Directed by Chris Noonan
Produced by Bill Miller
George Miller
Doug Mitchell
Screenplay by George Miller
Chris Noonan
Based on The Sheep-Pig 
by Dick King-Smith
Starring James Cromwell
Magda Szubanski
Narrated by Roscoe Lee Browne
Music by Nigel Westlake
Cinematography Andrew Lesnie
Edited by Marcus D'Arcy
Jay Friedkin
Distributed by Universal Pictures
Release dates
  • August 4, 1995 (1995-08-04) (United States)
Running time
91 minutes
Country Australia
United States
Language English
Budget $30 million
Box office $254.1 million

Babe is a 1995 comedy-drama family film, co-written and directed by Chris Noonan. It is an adaptation of Dick King-Smith's 1983 novel The Sheep-Pig, also known as Babe: The Gallant Pig in the USA, which tells the story of a pig who wants to be a sheepdog. The main animal characters are played by a combination of real and animatronic pigs and Border Collies.[1]

After seven years of development,[2] Babe was filmed in Robertson, New South Wales, Australia.[3] The talking-animal visual effects were done by Rhythm & Hues Studios and Jim Henson's Creature Shop.

The film was a box office success and grossed $36,776,544 at the box office in Australia.[4] It has received considerable acclaim from critics: it was nominated for seven Academy Awards including Best Picture, Best Director and Best Adapted Screenplay, winning Best Visual Effects. It also won the Golden Globe Award for Best Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy and the Saturn Award for Best Fantasy Film.

In 1998, Babe producer and co-writer George Miller directed a sequel, Babe: Pig in the City.


A piglet named Babe is left orphaned after his mother is slaughtered, and is chosen for a "guess the weight" contest at a county fair. The winning farmer, named Arthur Hoggett, brings him home and allows him to stay with a border collie named Fly, her mate Rex, and their pups in the barn.

An eccentric duck named Ferdinand poses as a rooster to spare himself from being eaten and wakes the farm each morning by crowing. He persuades Babe to help him destroy the alarm clock that threatens his secret mission. Although they succeed in this goal, they startle the Hoggetts' cat, Duchess, awake, and in the confusion that ensues, all three accidentally destroy the living room. Rex orders Babe to stay away from Ferdinand (now a fugitive) and the house, or else. Sometime later, when Fly's puppies are put up for sale, Babe asks if he can call her ‘Mom’.

Christmas time brings a visit from the Hoggetts' relatives. Babe is almost chosen for the Christmas dinner but a duck 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, Babe justifies his existence by alerting the farmer to sheep rustlers stealing sheep from one of the fields who immediately depart. The next day, Hoggett sees Babe sort the hens, separating the brown ones from the white ones. Impressed, he takes the pig to the fields and allows Babe to try and herd the sheep. Encouraged by an elder ewe named Maa whom Babe had met previously on the farm, the sheep cooperate, but Rex sees Babe's actions as an insult to sheepdog and confronts Fly in a vicious fight for encouraging Babe. He injures Fly's leg and accidentally bites Arthur Hoggett's right 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 is wakened by the sheep's cries and sees three feral dogs attacking the herd. Despite managing to scare them off, Maa is mortally injured. Hoggett arrives, thinking that Babe killed Maa because he has blood on his snout when he had nuzzled her, prepares to shoot Babe for being a sheep-killer. Fly is so anxious to find out whether Babe is guilty or innocent that, for the first time in her life, instead of barking orders at the sheep, talks to them to find out what happened. The sheep tell her that Babe is innocent and saved them. Fly barks to distract Hoggett from shooting Babe, delaying him until Esme mentions that the police say feral dogs have been killing sheep on neighboring farms, whereupon Hoggett realizes that Babe was innocent.

When Esme leaves on a trip, Hoggett signs Babe up for a local sheep-herding competition. The night before the competition, it is raining, so Hoggett lets Babe and Fly in the house. However, Duchess scratches Babe while he tries to speak with her, so Hoggett immediately confines her outside. When Duchess is let back inside the house again later, she gets revenge on Babe by revealing that humans eat pigs. Horrified, Babe 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 all three search for him. Rex finds Babe in a cemetery, and Hoggett brings him home. However, Babe is still demoralized by Duchess' story and refuses to eat, despite encouragement from Rex, who has softened his attitude towards him. Hoggett gives Babe a drink from a baby bottle, sings "If I Had Words" to him, and dances a jig for him. This restores Babe's faith in the farmer's affection, and he begins eating again.

Later, at the sheep-herding competition, Babe meets the sheep he'll be herding, but they ignore Babe's attempts to speak with them. As Hoggett is criticized by the bemused judges and ridiculed by the public for using a pig, Rex quickly runs back to the farm to ask the sheep what to do. The sheep give him a secret password ("Baa-ram-ewe"[5]), first extracting a promise from Rex that he will treat them better from now on. Rex gets back to the competition in time and conveys the password to Babe. When Babe recites the password to the sheep, they follow his instructions flawlessly and he is wildly acclaimed by the crowd and unanimously given the highest score. Babe sits next to Farmer Hoggett, who praises him, in his understated way, by saying, "That'll do, Pig. That'll do."


Voice actors


The musical score for Babe was composed by Nigel Westlake. Classical orchestral music from 19th century French composers is used throughout the film but is disguised in a number 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, was an adaptation of the Maestoso movement of the organ symphony by Saint-Saëns, originally performed in 1977 by Scott Fitzgerald and Yvonne Keeley. This tune also reoccurs throughout the film's score.[6]

There are also brief quotations within the score from Edvard Grieg's Peer Gynt Suite.[7]

Other music featured is by Leo Delibes, Richard Rodgers, Gabriel Fauré and Georges Bizet.


Babe received widespread critical acclaim; it currently holds a 97% "Certified Fresh" approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes.[8] It was also a box office success, grossing $254,134,910 worldwide.[9]

It was nominated for seven Academy Awards, including Best Picture.[10] It won the award for Best Visual Effects, defeating Apollo 13.[11] In 2006, the American Film Institute named Babe #80 on its list of America's Most Inspiring Movies.[12]

Due to its subject being a piglet, Babe was initially banned in Malaysia to avoid upsetting Muslims, who view pigs as haram, although the ruling was overturned almost a year later and the film was released direct-to-VHS.[13]

When Babe was released in the USA, it is reported that "activists around the country staked out movie theatres with flyers documenting the real life abuses of pigs".[14] 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.[15] Actor James Cromwell also became an ethical vegan as a result of starring as Farmer Hoggett: "I decided that to be able to talk about this [movie] with conviction, I needed to become a vegetarian."[16] In 1996 he went on to organize a vegetarian dinner for the Los Angeles homeless at a “Compassionate Christmas” event[17] in order to reverse the barnyard view that "Christmas is carnage".


American Film Institute Lists


  1. ^ Chanko, Kenneth M. (1995-08-18). "This Pig Just Might Fly | Movies". Retrieved 2010-05-31. 
  2. ^ "Interview with Chris Noonan", 9 September 1999 accessed 19 November 2012
  3. ^ "Robertson – New South Wales – Australia". The Age. 2008-04-10. Retrieved 2008-07-20. 
  4. ^ Film Victoria - Australian Films at the Australian Box Office
  5. ^ Preface to Sue Weaver, "The Backyard Sheep: An Introductory Guide to Keeping Productive Pet Sheep" (Storey Publishing, 2013)
  6. ^ Film Score Monthly 53-64, Los Angeles CA 1995, page 70
  7. ^ ""Babe" Soundtrack Listing". CD Universe. Retrieved 18 March 2013. 
  8. ^ "Babe Movie Reviews, Pictures". Rotten Tomatoes. Archived from the original on 21 June 2010. Retrieved 31 May 2013. 
  9. ^ "Babe (1995)". Retrieved 31 May 2013. 
  10. ^ Siskel & Ebert week of February 16, 1996 Part 1 on YouTube Part 2 on YouTube
  11. ^ "Reviews:Babe". 4 August 1995. Retrieved 31 May 2013. 
  12. ^ a b AFI's 100 Years... 100 Cheers. American Film Institute. Retrieved 20 March 2013.
  13. ^ Gogoi, Pallavi (5 November 2006). "Banning Borat". Retrieved 31 May 2013. 
  14. ^ Hudson, Laura Elaine (ed.) The Apocalyptic Animal of Late Capitalism, University of California 2008, p.108 ISBN 9781109061604. Retrieved 2 March 2014
  15. ^ Nobis, Nathan. "The Babe Vegetarians", in Bioethics at the Movies, Johns Hopkins University 2009 pp.56-70. ISBN 9780801890789.Retrieved 2 March 2014
  16. ^ Smith, Scott, A Pig's Best Friend, Vegetarian Times, November 1998, p.20. ISSN 0164-8497.
  17. ^ Vegetarian Times, March 1997 p.24. ISSN 0164-8497.
  18. ^ "Academy Awards, USA: 1996". Archived from the original on 27 February 2009. Retrieved 2009-04-08. 
  19. ^ "The 68th Academy Awards (1996) Nominees and Winners". Archived from the original on 6 July 2011. Retrieved 2011-08-05. 
  20. ^ "Award Search". Archived from the original on 5 July 2011. Retrieved 2011-08-01. 
  21. ^ AFI's 100 Years...100 Movies Nominees
  22. ^ AFI's 100 Years...100 Laughs Nominees
  23. ^ AFI's 100 Years...100 Heroes and Villains Nominees
  24. ^ AFI's 100 Years...100 Movie Quotes Nominees
  25. ^ AFI's 100 Years...100 Movies (10th Anniversary Edition) Ballot
  26. ^ AFI's 10 Top 10 Ballot

External links