"That'll do, pig. That'll do."
Based on a book called The Sheep-Pig
by Dick King-Smith
is the story of a little piglet ("Babe" to the other animals he encounters and "Pig" to all the humans — including the narrator) that gets plucked from his life as future bacon to become a prize at a fair, ending up on the sheep farm of Mr. Hoggett (James Cromwell
). The farm is quirky already, and taking in Babe, cared for by his "mother", the sheepdog Fly, only makes things stranger.
As it turns out, Babe is a kind and trusting sort that quickly befriends most of the farm animals, and uses his friendship to become an effective sheep herder. From there, Farmer Hoggett decides, instead of making Babe a featured part of the dinner table, to use the little pig to actually compete in sheep dog trials.
While theoretically a children's movie, its offbeat charm and heartwarming (and remarkably Glurge-free
) story made it a favorite amongst all ages. It even received 7 Oscar nominations including one for Best Picture, much to the surprise of many, and the chagrin of the Academy. They made efforts to keep further "children's movies" from qualifying in the future. (Hello, Best Animated Picture
category! Best Animated Picture says, "hi.")
The film was followed by a 1998 sequel, Babe: Pig in the City,
which despite its cutesy-poo title manages to take an already fairly dark story and turn it very, very much Darker and Edgier
. The fact that George Miller takes over as director (he produced the first film and Chris Noonan directed) has quite a bit to do with it. It has been called The City of Lost Children — Except This Time the Children are Adorable Kittens
, which gives you an idea of the tone. More information can be found here
The book also got a sequel-of-sorts, a somewhat Lighter and Softer
book called Ace,
which tells of Babe's great-grandson Ace — so named because he has a spot on his side that resembles the Ace of Clubs — who has the curious and unique ability to perfectly understand human language. None of the characters from the original book appear, though Babe and the Hoggetts are mentioned a few times (Ace's owner, Ted Tubbs, was childhood sweethearts with Mrs. Hoggett, but they ultimately didn't get together).
This movie has examples of:
- Arc Words: "That'll do, pig."
- Adaptation Expansion: The movie adds several characters and plot threads that weren't in the book.
- Angry Guard Dog: Rex.
- Ain't Too Proud to Beg: Fly was willing to partially put aside her prejudice for sheep to civilly (if s-l-o-w-l-y) ask them what happened the morning that Maa was killed, so she could prove Babe's innocence.
- All-Loving Hero: Babe to a sutble degree and pointed out in the sequel where he saves a bull terrier right after the said dog had tried to kill him, and all the other animals watching the drowning dog retreated from helping.
- Animal Athlete Loophole: Ain't No Rule that says a pig can't compete in a sheepherding dog trial! In a trick of semantics the trial registration form merely requires "Name of Entry". The narrator says that had it been "Name of Dog", they couldn't have entered Babe. This also happens in the book.
- Animal Talk: All animals can understand each other, though their understanding of humans is limited. Humans can't understand the animals at all. And yet, even though the different animals can understand one another, they're surprisingly bad at actually communicating with each other, especially dogs and sheep.
- Awful Truth: Babe finds out that most pigs are eaten by humans, and that his real family was most likely eaten. Naturally it's a cat that silkily delivers the bad news.
- Artistic License – Biology: Thelonius from the sequel is a male orangutan, but he is portrayed by a female. Justified because female apes are easier to train and handle than males.
- Because You Were Nice to Me: The bull terrier in the sequel who tries to kill Babe, and is then rescued by him, immediately employs himself as Babe's right hand man.
- Also pointed out in his speech of how it's a bull terrier's job to "be malicious" and that most others would have let him drown.
- Big "Shut Up!": Fly delivers one to the sheep, who finally clam up and allow her to, slowly, ask what killed Maa. One spokesheep replies, slowly, that Maa was killed by wolves (dogs), and Babe saved the rest of the flock.
- A Boy and His X: While Hoggett is noticeably older than the trope would indicate, his manner certainly calls this trope to mind.
- Brutal Honesty: Fly did not sugar-coat the fact from Babe that humans do eat pigs, and the likely fate of his family - but balanced it by vigorously refuting the idea that Babe had no purpose.
- Carnivore Confusion: Basically makes up the entire plot of both movies. When was the last time you cringed at a duck dinner?
- Cats Are Mean: Though the film gives a disclaimer that not all cats are mean (indeed, the ones in City are mostly nice). However, Duchess, the spoiled cat, is mean by even cat standards. She drinks the blood of the freshly killed duck offscreen, gives Babe a nasty scratch, and finally tells him that humans eat pigs, as well as "Pigs have no purpose".
- Ultimately subverted in Ace, where Clarence the cat is, at worst, a Jerk with a Heart of Gold, and is quick to befriend the titular pig.
- City of Canals: In the sequel.
- Color-Coded for Your Convenience: Rex, while not being a villain in any sense, is indeed a Jerk Ass, and fittingly, his fur coat features much less bright markings on it than Fly's, or is even typical for Border Collies as a breed.
- Darker and Edgier: The sequel.
- The first movie is also slightly Darker and Edgier than the original book, though admittedly not by much.
- Deadpan Snarker: The mice, especially in the sequel. Je ne regrette rien after Babe accidentally injures Farmer Hoggett?
- At times, slips outright into Comedic Sociopathy; the mice giggle merrily at nearly every dark turn of the plot in both movies. See especially "Crime and Punishment", "Pork is a Nice Sweet Meat", and "Chaos Theory" (from the sequel). "A Tragic Day", though, is Exactly What It Says on the Tin, and even the mice are subdued.
- Dinner and a Show: Hoggett has to step away from his dinner to break up the fight between Rex and Fly.
- Disaster Dominoes: A chapter in the second movie, appropriately titled "Chaos Theory".
- Disproportionate Retribution: Rex attacks his mate for "putting ideas in Babe's head". In fact, he was so filled with rage that he bites Mr. Hoggett's hand for trying to stop the fight (causing him to go into a Heroic BSOD since he attacked his boss) and launches an all-out attack on Babe just for trying to talk to him.
- A Dog Named Dog: Farmer Hoggett calls Babe "Pig". Babe's mother called all her babies "Babe".
- Do They Know It's Christmas Time?: Some of the Hoggett flock is stolen on Christmas Day.
- Fantastic Racism: Between the dogs and the sheep, the dogs who regard sheep as inferior and stupid, and sheep, who think of all dogs as bloodthirsty wolves.
- The primates in the sequel, who wear clothes and are part of a circus act, believe themselves superior to other animals because of how human-like they are. In the end, they discover they can be happy just by being themselves.
- Furry Confusion: Sort of. One of the brilliant touches in Pig in the City is how the chimps — who wear clothing and are part of a circus act — consider themselves superior to other animals because of how human-like they are. By the end they find it's better just being themselves.
- Friend to All Living Things: Babe.
- Gadgeteer Genius: Farmer Hoggett is a very understated, genteel example. He cobbles together an automatic opening/closing device for the farm's gate, and develops other gadgets around the farm as well. It's his uncanny ability to see purpose in things nobody else does that ends up saving Babe's life.
- Greek Chorus: The mice, and usually in a darkly sarcastic way that belies their cheery singing.
- Green-Eyed Monster: This was one of the main reasons why Rex did not like Babe. Rex had the makings of a sheepdog champion but had lost his hearing and therefore couldn't herd sheep as well as he used to. Then came Babe - a pig - who was able to do what he no longer could.
- Handicapped Badass Rex. You find out later in the film that during a terrible storm, he and Fly tried to herd the sheep to safer ground, but they wouldn't move, and Rex stayed behind, and nearly drowned. He survived, but the incident caused him to go almost completely deaf.
- Heartwarming Orphan: Babe.
- Heel-Face Turn: Rex.
- Jerk Ass: Definitely the cat, who tries to scare Babe by convincing him that Hoggett's only playing sheep-pig with him until he gets a craving for bacon. All because Hoggett sent her outside for scratching Babe on the snout for no good reason. Even cat-lovers wanted to give her a kick.
- Ferdinand for taking advantage of Babe's good nature.
- Rex. Saying that a duck (an animal bred to be eaten and nothing else)needs to "accept what he is and be thankful for it" sounds incredibly hypocritical considering he's a sheepdog and at one point was the most useful animal on the farm.
- Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Rex, who eventually warms up to Babe after his Heroic BSOD; he ultimately crosses the county twice to give Babe the trump card he needs at the sheepdog trials.
- Thelonius the orangutan in Pig in the City.
- Karma Houdini: Duchess. Despite being soaked in paint (earlier in the film) and being tossed out of the house and into rainy weather (after she spitefully scratched Babe,) her true colors come into view when she reveals to Babe that humans eat pigs. Afterwards she never appears again in the film.
- Meaningful Echo:
Fly decided to speak very slowly, for it was a cold fact of nature that sheep were stupid, and no one would ever persuade her otherwise.
The sheep spoke very slowly, for it was a cold fact of nature that wolves were ignorant, and nothing would convince them otherwise.
- Meaningful Name: Babe is a "babe" i.e, "baby" because of his naivety. Rex and Duchess because of their rank and place in the farm's hierarchy. Fly is very quick.
- Mistaken Identity: Very nearly fatal to Babe; he's found next to the dead Maa, her throat ripped out, with blood on his snout. As pigs are omnivorous, that isn't an entirely unreasonable assumption for Farmer Hoggett to make. He's only saved when Fly runs up and stops Hoggett from shooting Babe; moments later, Mrs. Hoggett runs up and reports the neighbors had just lost several lambs to wild dogs, clearing Babe.
- Motor Mouth: Mrs. Hoggett.
- My God, What Have I Done?: Rex goes into a depression after he failed to lose the sheep during a storm, causing him to act cynical and bitter. He does this after he bites Mr. Hogget's hand for stopping the fight between him and Fly.
- Not Allowed to Grow Up: Since adult pigs aren't cute Babe never grows up, despite the fact that at least a couple months passed in the first movie, and it must've been a year by the time the sequel begins.
- Averted in the book, where it's vividly described how Babe, as a fully grown pig, trots out of Farmer Hoggett's van and to the trial field. More so in Ace, where the titular character starts as a cute piglet, but the narrative explicitly and several times mentions how he grows as time passes. At the end of the book, he's huge.
- Ooh, Me Accent's Slipping: Mrs Hoggett's accent sounds more Swedish and throughout the film, you can spot any Aussie actor or actress struggling with theirs.
- Opposites Attract: Mr. and Mrs. Hoggett.
- Parental Bonus: A particularly eyebrow raising one, again care of Ferdinand, this time describing his attempts to take over the rooster's role:
Humans don't eat roosters — why? They make eggs with the hens and wake everyone up in the morning. I tried it with the hens; it didn't work. So I turned to crowing, and lo! I discover my gift.
- Parental Substitute: Fly keeps an eye after Babe and mothers him like he was one of hers. After Fly's pups are sold, Babe comforts her with just this.
"Fly? May I call you Mom?"
- Playing Gertrude: Mrs. Hoggett, who is seemingly old enough to be a grandmother of elementary school-aged children, was played by Magda Szubanski, who was 34 when the film was released.
- Plucky Comic Relief: Ferdinand. In fact, he's not in the original book and was invented for the movie specifically to fill this role.
- Poor Communication Kills: The main reason for the enimity between sheep and dogs.
- Protagonist Title
- Raised by Wolves: A variant; Babe is raised by a mother sheepdog, who does teach a somewhat awkward set of manners to the young pig. Somewhat appropriately, the sheep frequently refer to the dogs as "wolves".
- "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Duchess delivers a particularly brutal one to Babe, in no part because a lot of what she says is true.
- Ridiculously Cute Critter: Take your pick but the most prominent is The Protagonist.
- The Rustler: The Hoggetts' sheep are rustled multiple times, first by actual sheep rustlers, then by a pack of wild dogs that show, all too clearly, why the sheep refer to dogs as wolves.
- The Quiet One: Hoggett.
- Red Herring: Hoggett and his wife discussing Christmas dinner; at first, it looks like it is the end for Babe. But then it's obviously a duck he takes to the chopping shed; The audience is allowed to think it's Ferdinand that became Christmas dinner for quite some time, before he finally pops up next to Babe. The cow even lampshades it, asking Ferdinand, "If you're out here, then who's that in there?
- Sad Clown: The Fabulous Floom is a literal sad clown. He also, however, counts as a...
- Scary Clown: How unsettling is the Fabulous Floom? Let us count the ways...
- Shoo Out the Clowns: While Ferdinand leaving the farm isn't an immediate sign of things getting darker, it's telling that he doesn't return until the most dramatic part of the movie is over.
- Inverted in the sequel, where he's largely absent for the first part of the movie and then shows up in time for the darkest parts. Guess the moviemakers figured some comic relief would be welcome at that point.
- Shout-Out: An inversion, the quote at the top of the page has been referenced in several place from The Dresden Files to Shrek.
- And far more obscurely, in Warcraft II the NPC sheep would bleat out 'baa ram ewe' if you clicked on them enough.
- In the film itself, Mrs. Hoggett polishes a first prize trophy for the Kingsmith Dick Show, a Shout-Out to the author of the original novel. However, it easily leads to...
- Sneeze of Doom: Subverted. Ferdinand almost wakes up the cat, but then Babe loudly drops the alarm clock trying to tell him to hold it in.
- Soundtrack Dissonance: When Farmer Hogget takes Ferdinand's girlfriend to the chopping board, the rest of the family can be heard singing a Christmas carol.
- Standard Snippet: "Pizzicato" from Sylvia plays over the scene of Babe and Ferdinand trying to steal the alarm clock.
- The Stoic: Hoggett, again.
- Tears of Joy: Mrs. Hoggett at the end of the film. Maybe the audience, too.
- Ungrateful Bitch: Arthur Hoggett's granddaughter who doesn't get the TV dollhouse, but rather an amazing looking one hand made by her grandfather. What makes this more heartbreaking is Mr. and Mrs. Hoggett's reaction to this. Really wants to make you smack the little brat.