Babe is a 1995 fantasy comedy-drama film directed by Chris Noonan, adapted from the 1983 English children's book The Sheep-Pig (also known in the United States as Babe, the Gallant Pig) by Dick King-Smith.
It 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 one Arthur Hoggett (James Cromwell). The farm is quirky already, and taking in Babe — who's cared for by his "mother", the sheepdog Fly — only makes things stranger.
As it turns out, Babe is a kind and trusting sort who quickly befriends most of the farm animals, and uses his friendship to become an effective sheep herder. From there, Farmer Hoggett decides that instead of making Babe a featured part of the dinner table, he'll enter the little pig in a sheepdog competition.
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 seven Academy Award nominations including Best Picture, to the surprise of many... and the chagrin of the Academy, which 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.
Not to be confused with Charlotte's Web, which also has a pig protagonist and most of the same thematic elements, but has an extra spider character, the eponymous Charlotte. Also not to be confused with The Babe.
That'll do, tropes. That'll do.
- Accidental Tickle Torture: Babe is subjected to this when Esme uses measuring tape on his belly to see if he's become fat enough to have for Christmas dinner, causing him to react quite ticklishly. It then becomes Friendly Tickle Torture when Esme playfully tickles his belly, causing his laughter to increase.
- Adaptation Expansion: The movie adds several characters and plot threads that weren't in the book.
- Ain't Too Proud to Beg: Fly is 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 can stop Hoggett from shooting Babe.
- All-Loving Hero: Babe to a subtle degree.
- Angry Guard Dog: Rex.
- Animal Athlete Loophole: There's 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", Farmer Hoggett would have been greatly troubled at the idea of being less than truthful.
- Animal Jingoism: Sheep and dogs are both convinced the other is irredeemably stupid, and sheep also refer to dogs as 'wolves', refusing to believe they have truly changed their nature.
- 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.
- Animals Lack Attributes: Babe is always played by a female since they have less genitalia and to avoid showing a male's testicles.
- Arc Words:
- "That'll do, pig."
- "Pork is a nice, sweet meat."
- Artistic License – Biology: Pigs grow rapidly enough that the crew burned through 48 Large White piglets filming the movie, but Babe never grows out of his baby stage.
- Awful Truth: Babe finds out that most pigs are eaten by humans, just as humans sometimes eat ducks, and that his real family was most likely eaten. Naturally, it's a cat who silkily delivers the bad news.
- Battle Discretion Shot: When Duchess is roused by the alarm clock that Babe dropped, it immediately cuts to an exterior shot, with the sound effects of smashing objects, Duchess' yowling, and Ferdinand's panicked quacking indicating that the ensuing brawl is pretty intense — then, when the Hoggetts come home, we see the incredibly messy aftermath.
- Big Damn Kiss: A damn adorable one between Fly and Rex, celebrating Babe's victory at the climax.
- Big "SHUT UP!": Fly delivers one to the sheep, who finally clam up and allow her to ask who killed Maa.
- Brainy Pig: Babe learns to round up sheep like a sheepdog, when he's only a piglet no less.
- 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: Acknowledged. When was the last time you cringed at a duck dinner?
- Cats Are Mean: Though the narrator is quick to assert that there are plenty of perfectly nice cats in the world, Duchess, the spoiled house cat, is not one of them. 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 just like ducks don't have a purpose".
- Chekhov's Gun: The fax machine becomes one, in a subtle way: Even with the sheepdog competition apparently having a very generous deadline, Mr. Hoggett would never have been able to send in the application as late as he did if it had had to go by mail.
- Chubby Mama, Skinny Papa: Mr. & Mrs. Hoggett.
- Colour-Coded for Your Convenience: Rex, while not being a villain in any sense, is indeed a Jerkass, 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.
- The Corpse Stops Here: 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, though the odds of a young piglet doing so are very dubious. 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.Esme: Arthur! Oh, there you are! Well, what do you think? That was the police on the telephone, said there are wild dogs about. Apparently, the Mitchells lost six lambs this morning... What on Earth are you doing with that gun?
Arthur: Oh, uh ... nothing.
- Cross-Cast Role: Babe is a male pig played by 48 different female piglets. There are many times you can see their teats, a characteristic which males lack.
- Curb-Stomp Battle: Babe vs. a pack of wild dogs... in Babe's favor no less!
- Darker and Edgier: The movie compared to the original book, though admittedly not by much. The main sources of this are the characters of Rex and Duchess, both Canon Foreigners.
- Deadpan Snarker: The mice. At times, slips outright into Comedic Sociopathy; the mice giggle merrily at nearly every dark turn of the plot. See especially "Crime and Punishment" and "Pork is a Nice Sweet Meat". "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.
- Disproportionate Retribution: Rex attacks his wife 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 literally bit the hand that feeds him) and launches an all-out attack on Babe just for trying to talk to him.
- Domestic Abuse: A brief moment shows Rex attacking his mate Fly.
- Down on the Farm: The Hoggetts' farm is the main setting of this film.
- A Dog Named "Dog": Farmer Hoggett calls Babe "Pig". Babe's mother called all her babies "Babe".
- Establishing Character Moment: The first we see of the Hoggetts' granddaughter, she's being dragged out of her car screaming angrily and dissing the choice for Christmas dinner. ("I HATE PORK!") Yeah...
- Fantastic Caste System: The farm animals on Hoggett Farm have an unspoken hierarchy going as follows: Humans outrank animals (Hoggett is the "Boss"), then the two dogs Fly and Rex outrank everyone else, then you have the animals too valuable to be food (the old horse who pulls Hoggett's wagon and the mean housecat) then finally the animals that are eaten by humans (pigs, sheep, chickens). Unfortunately this means Babe is bottom-rung and few appreciate it when he gets ideas above his station.
- Fantastic Racism: Dogs and sheep do not get along well at all. Dogs see sheep as irredeemably stupid, even though the sheep Babe meets comes across as no less intelligent than any other animal on the farm; Sheep see dogs as Always Chaotic Evil and no different from their wolf ancestors, even though Fly shows that dogs are capable of being nice to other animals, and even Rex has a softer side.
- Friend to All Living Things: Babe.
- Funny Background Event: Of the "funny foreground event" variety; when Ferdinand and Babe's heist of the alarm clock leads to chaos and a cut to the house's exterior, a pair of ducks can be seen vigorously mating in the pond. Also, from the looks of it, they're male ducks.
- 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.
- Glad You Thought of It: This is how Farmer Hoggett saves Babe from becoming Christmas dinner. He ponders aloud that it's a shame that they have to eat him when he looks like he could be a blue-ribbon winner at the fairs next summer. Esme, who has a large collection of trophies from those fairs, falls for the bait and suggests that they have duck instead.
- 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 was a two-time 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.
- Hate Sink:
- Duchess, who regularly bullies Babe and causes him to run away after cruelly telling him his mother was eaten.
- Hoggett's granddaughter spends the time complaining about her food and eventually callously disowns her grandfather's well-crafted dollhouse since it wasn't from TV. It's clear she's meant to bring audience contempt.
- The granddaughter's parents are shown to be just as contemptible by giving the Hoggetts a fax machine for Christmas, which really is just for themselves. They also never bother to reprimand their bratty daughter and obviously show No Sympathy towards Mr. Hoggett when his dollhouse gets cruelly disowned by her. You can even see them smiling at their daughter's fit. One might even say they're responsible for her behavior.
- Heartwarming Orphan: Babe, naturally.
- Heel–Face Turn: Near the climax, Rex finally shows Babe some kindness after the latter's Heroic BSoD, and is later the one to seek out the password for him. Some of this potentially stems from his loyalty to Farmer Hoggett and/or finally recognizing how much Babe means to Fly, but he also seems genuinely happy at the end when Babe wins (especially noteworthy given that he'd been humiliated by Babe's success earlier in the movie).
- Housepet Pig: Farmer Hoggett won the titular pig to be his dinner at first, but had a change of heart and decided to keep him as a pet instead.
- Hypocrite: 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.
- I Have No Son!: Rex does not take kindly to Babe due to his Fantastic Racism and lashes out at him after being put in a muzzle for hurting Fly and Farmer Hoggett. He comes around to accept him eventually.
- Ill-Timed Sneeze: Subverted. Ferdinand almost sneezes and wakes up the cat, but then Babe loudly drops the alarm clock trying to tell him to hold it in and it starts ringing, which does wake her up.
- Innocence Lost: For all the undesirable circumstances Babe has met with, including seeing his own mother herded away with the other sows when he was small, he still remains loving and idealistic, eventually finding his place in his new home and touching the others there in unexpected ways. His innocence is sadly tested when he witnesses the death of his friend Maa to a pack of wild dogs preying on her herd, and later when Duchess mocks him with the cruel reality of how the world views his kind. The revelation that his entire family likely met their end not in "pig paradise", but in slaughterhouses for food just like ducks very nearly sends him over the edge.
- Innocent Inaccurate:
- The narration notes that pigs have come to believe that those pigs that disappear and are never seen again are taken to "pig paradise", a place so wonderful that they never want to go back. As is made clear to the audience, they're actually being taken to the slaughter.
- Later, Babe is completely unafraid of Farmer Hoggett's rifle because his only mental association with a device even remotely resembling it is the metal feeders that were used to feed the piglets after they were separated from their mothers. Fortunately, he never has to learn the truth about that one.
- Duchess 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 other than just being in the house. Even cat-lovers wanted to give her a kick.
- Ferdinand for taking advantage of Babe's good nature, at least in the beginning.
- 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.
- Job-Stealing Robot: Ferdinand accuses the Hoggets' alarm clock of stealing his job even though he's a duck, not a rooster (and even the rooster's been put out of work because of it).
- Karma Houdini:
- Duchess gets nothing for having convinced Babe to run away from home, which causes him to come down with a serious illness that if not for Fly and Rex's quick actions might've been the end of him.
- The sheep rustlers manage to make off with dozens of members of Maa's herd before Farmer Hoggett can do anything to stop them.
- Perhaps the biggest ones are the dogs that maul Maa to death before being scared away by Babe. Although according to Mrs. Hoggett, the police are already aware of what they've been doing and alerting the locals to the danger they present.
- Kind Hearted Cat Lover: Mrs. Hoggett, the farmer's wife. While she seems fond of animals in general, she clearly has a lot of love for her cat, Duchess, and absolutely spoiled her. Too bad that said cat doesn't exactly take after her owner...
- Language Barrier: The animals don't understand the humans, save a few words and phrases, and the humans can't understand the animals at all.
- Laser-Guided Karma: Boy is it satisfying when Duchess gets kicked out of the farmhouse. Out into the pouring rain, no less.
- Loophole Abuse: Hoggett manages to enter Babe into the sheepdog trials because the rulebook doesn't explicitly state that the participating animal must be a dog.
- Meaningful Echo:Narrator: Fly decided to speak very slowly, for it was a cold fact of nature that sheep were stupid, and there was nothing that could convince her otherwise.
Fly: Please, someone tell me... what happened this morning.
Narrator: The sheep decided to speak very slowly, for it was a cold fact of nature that wolves were ignorant, and there was nothing that could 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, like most Border Collies, is very quick.
- Motor Mouth: Mrs. Hoggett.
- My God, What Have I Done?:
- Rex's immediate reaction after he bites Mr. Hogget's hand for stopping the fight between him and Fly. Afterward he seems to go into a Heroic BSoD; even as Hoggett and the vet are acting like he's still dangerous and injecting him with sedatives, all he can do is lie there. However, at that point, it's not entirely clear whether Rex is subdued because of his sedation or just because he's still in shock.
- Hoggett has a "what did I almost do" version when he learns about the wild dogs and realizes he was about to kill Babe for no reason.
- Narrator: Roscoe Lee Browne narrates the film.
- No Name Given: The Hoggetts' relatives consists of their daughter, son-in-law, granddaughter, and grandson don't have any names. Same goes to the sheep rustlers.
- Not Allowed to Grow Up: Since adult pigs aren't cute, Babe never grows up, despite the fact that at least a couple months pass.
- Oh, Crap!: Mrs Hoggett gives this reaction when she realizes her husband entered the sheep-herding competition with Babe.
- O.O.C. Is Serious Business: Both Fly and Rex get in on this trope at different points in the film—both time relating to the sheep, who are normally their mortal enemies. Fly manages to slowly and politely ask the panicking ewes what happened to Maa, which allows her to determine Babe's innocence in her death. Later, Rex also speaks to the sheep calmly and even promises to treat them with respect if they will give him the secret password that proves that someone is a friend to ewes.
- 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:Ferdinand: 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.Babe: Fly? May I call you Mom?
- 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 enmity between sheep and dogs.
- Protagonist Title
- Public Domain Soundtrack: The main theme of the film's score written by Nigel Westlake, and the tune to the song "If I Had Words", is taken from Camille Saint-Saëns' third symphony. Other samples from lesser-known pieces of classical music can be heard throughout the film.
- The Quiet One: Hoggett. Supposedly James Cromwell was only looking for a minor role and chose this script based on the number of lines his character had, not realizing how prominent the character actually was in spite of this.
- 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.Duchess: Oh...I haven't upset you, have I?
- 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?"
- Red Oni, Blue Oni: Esme Hoggett is the talkative, excitable, extroverted Red while Arthur is the quiet, calm, introverted Blue.
- Ridiculously Cute Critter: Take your pick but the most prominent is The Protagonist.
- Rule of Drama: If Farmer Hoggett had looked at Maa more closely, he might have been able to tell that she was mauled in a way that's inconsistent with anything Babe would be able to inflict (since pigs' teeth are different from dogs'). Naturally, he never takes that closer look.
- The Runaway: Babe runs away from the farm after Duchess reveals to him that pigs are raised to be eaten. He's quickly found, though, and Hoggett comforts him with the song "If I Had Words." Ferdinand also leaves the farm after the female duck he liked is eaten, but eventually he comes back.
- 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.
- Sapient Eat Sapient: Subverted. Hoggett takes a duck 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.
- Savvy Guy, Energetic Girl: Mr. & Mrs. Hoggett.
- Sentimental Homemade Toy: Subverted when Arthur Hogget makes and gives a homemade dollhouse to his unnamed granddaughter. She rejects it and throws a fit stating that she wants a dollhouse she saw from TV.
- 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.
- Shout-Out: Mrs. Hoggett polishes a first prize trophy for the Kingsmith Dick Show, a Shout-Out to the author of the original novel.
- Somber Backstory Revelation: Fly sounds sad and regretful as she shares Rex's backstory, that his hearing was damaged while he tried saving a flock of sheep in a flood, leaving him unable to compete in shows for Farmer Hoggett.
- 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.
- Spoiled Brat:
- The Hoggetts' granddaughter, who throws a tantrum upon seeing the doll's house Arthur made for her, all because it wasn't the television-advertised one she wanted.
- Duchess the cat. While not a human, she is very spoiled and is quite hostile to anything she doesn't like.
- Standard Snippet: "Pizzicato" from Sylvia plays over the scene of Babe and Ferdinand trying to steal the alarm clock.
- The Stoic: Hoggett, again.
- Stunned Silence: The ending of the film has the entire crowd silent after watching Babe herd the sheep perfectly. They then erupt with thunderous applause.
- Tears of Joy: Mrs. Hoggett at the end of the film. Overlaps with Tearful Smile, since those tears were anything but joyful when they first started.
- Translation Convention: The animals speak a language that humans can't understand, but we as human audience members hear everything they are saying.
- Trust Password: It turns out that sheep have a universal one—speaking it means someone is a friend to all sheep and should be treated as such. Rex eventually recovers the password to give to Babe in time for the pig to win the big sheep-herding competition.
- 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. It really makes you want to smack the little brat.
- Urine Trouble: At the beginning, the young Babe is being offered in a "Guess the piglet's weight" contest; when Farmer Hoggett picks him up to get a feel for his weight, he lets fly with a stream of urine (which fortunately doesn't hit anybody). Hoggett's only reaction is to knock a few ounces off his guess.
- Where the Hell Is Springfield?: It's not very clear where the Hoggett Farm and the rural town close to it are supposed to be; most of the Australian actors are doing Fake American accents while the American James Cromwell affects a vaguely English one. Compare this with the book The Sheep-Pig, which is explicitly set in the north of England. Maybe this was done so viewers could assume it could, indeed, be a rural region anywhere in the world.
- You Are Too Late: Though Babe does prevent the wild dogs from dragging any of the sheep away, he's unable to prevent Maa from having her throat ripped out, killing her.