Babe – On a farm, every animal has its place. Animals work, or are raised for food. Piglet ‘Babe’, naïve in the ways of the farm, wants to ape his adoptive sheepdog mother by herding sheep. Little does he know that his survival may depend on it. But by talking to sheep rather than using aggression, will his unusual approach be enough to prove his worth?

Babe (1995) – Director: Chris Noonan

babe movie poster suitable for children

Rating: U

Running Length: 91 mins

Starring: James Cromwell, Magda Szubanski, Christine Cavanaugh

Genre: Comedy

REVIEW: ‘BABE’

Author, Dick King Smith, was famous for his small tales of talking farmyard animals and the trials and tribulations they face. The most well-known of which was ‘The Sheep Pig’, upon which ‘Babe’ was based. For the most part the movie is faithful to the source material (aside from some inevitable padding) and it’s not hard to see how a tale of a sweet and polite pig using good manners to excel at herding sheep is so heart warming, regardless of the medium.

The padded out material does stick out like a sore thumb, adding a larger cast of animals that do little to further the plot (such as a rather annoying duck that really only exists to fill up run time) but what Babe has going for it in spades is the charm. Christine Cavanaugh’s voice acting for Babe perfectly encapsulates the sweet and innocent nature of the pig that wants to be a sheepdog, and James Cromwell in particular works magic with so few lines to speak; his quiet stoicism is portrayed almost entirely through his face and he anchors the movie with a steady presence throughout.

The story structure of a character who wants to be different to the norm and slowly convinces the others around them is a tried and tested one, of course, but rarely is the motivating factor behind such development the simple desire to be good, polite, and courteous! ‘Babe’ is a simple tale in a small setting with a minimal cast, but yet still bursts from the screen with more warmth and soul than the over-processed committee written efforts that constitute the bulk of Hollywood.

CONTENT: IS ‘BABE’ SUITABLE FOR CHILDREN?

Much of the content we will mention in this section is related to the nature of farm animals being raised for meat for human consumption.

The opening sequence of the movie has the camera pan around the farm-house. We see a picture of a pig with the side cut out and sausages shown hanging inside.

A cattle prod is used to move a large sow away from her piglets. A small piglet says “goodbye mom”. Although the piglet is excited rather than sad as it believes its mother is being sent to pig paradise. However, a child may understand that this is not the case, or be upset at the separation.

When the piglet finds itself at a farm with other animals a puppy says ‘pigs are definitely stupid’. The piglet starts to cry and wails, “I want my mom”. An older dog then comforts the piglet so it’s distress is short-lived.

When talking to a sheep, Babe is told, “Some wolves would run you down and tear you to pieces”.

The farm duck refuses to eat too much as it is aware that if it gets too plump then it might get eaten. Another animal refers to it as an ‘anorexic duck’.

There are several references to what the family will eat for the upcoming Christmas dinner: Roast Pork (i.e. eat Babe) or Duck a l’Orange (i.e. eat the duck). At one point we hear a loud quack and the sound of chopping. We also see a close up of a non-descript carcass being ripped as Christmas dinner is prepared.

Babe investigates why the sheep are making a lot of noise. Large aggressive dogs are chasing them around. There is loud barking and one dog attacks Babe by running headfirst into him. Babe runs away squealing.

A child is given a doll’s house for a gift. Earlier in the film we have seen the doll’s house being built with care and attention to detail. However the child is spoilt and cries that she wants the one she ‘saw on the television’.

Babe is told to dominate the sheep. He searches for an insult to use before calling them all ‘big buttheads’. They all laugh at him so he bites one hard on the leg. He is chastised for doing this by Ma the sheep and he apologises quickly.

Two dogs have an argument. The gruff male dog lashes out and attacks the female dog. It then bites Farmer Hoggett on the hand. One dog talks about the male dog’s back story. Reference is made to drowning sheep.

Dogs maul some sheep. They are chased away. Later, blood is shown around the neck and snout of Babe and an established character is killed. The character is lifted on to the back of a truck and there is a close up of its limp face as the lorry drives out of shot.

The cat describes to another character that humans eat animals and that the other character’s entire family was likely eaten. The character is hurt and upset and remains depressed for around 5 minutes.

CAN I SEE A CLIP?
VERDICT: IS ‘BABE’ FOR KIDS?

There is a constant underlying reference towards eating animals and eating meat and that the animals in the farm are there, for the most part, to ultimately be eaten. Therefore your feelings on ‘Babe’ may revolve around whether or not you feel this is an issue for you or your children. That aside, due to some minor violence issues, we would state that ‘Babe’ is suitable for children aged 4 and up

  • Violence: 1/5 (violent dogs attack sheep which at one point leads to a death. Blood is shown from time to time)
  • Emotional Distress: 2/5 (Babe calling for his mother is a sad scene and so is the death of an established character)
  • Fear Factor: 1/5 (violent dogs may scare those sensitive to dogs barking)
  • Sexual Content: 0/5
  • Bad Language: 0/5
  • Dialogue: 1/5 (some mild verbal threats and discussions of animals being eaten)
  • Other Notes: Deal with themes of farm life, raising livestock, being more than you are expected to be, the power of good manners, overcoming prejudice, and swallowing your pride.

Words by Michael Record

Babe/Babe: Pig In The City [DVD]


New From: £4.95 GBP In Stock

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