Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBBB
Australia/USA, 1995. Universal Pictures, Kennedy Miller Productions. Screenplay by George Miller, Chris Noonan, based on the novel The Sheep Pig by Dick King-Smith. Cinematography by Andrew Lesnie. Produced by Bill Miller, George Miller, Doug Mitchell. Music by Nigel Westlake. Production Design by Roger Ford. Costume Design by Roger Ford. Film Editing by Marcus D’Arcy, Jay Friedkin.
One of the best family films made since The Wizard of Oz, a terrific look at life on the farm from the quadruped point of view. Babe is an orphaned piglet who is won at a county fair by peaceful Farmer Hoggett (James Cromwell) and brought to live in his barn with all the other animals.
Immediately cared for by a loving sheepdog family, Babe eventually discovers that the purpose of the life of a pig is simply to be slaughtered and eaten. Rising to the occasion and deciding to give his life some more meaning, the pig who always marches to the beat of his own drummer (and delightfully so) learns to take on the tasks of a sheepdog himself, befriending the stubborn sheep and recruiting them to his command.
The astonishing visual effects allow for the animals to speak in a remarkably human manner, but even more effective is that the dialogue they utter is brilliantly written. Appropriately dark in places but never as menacing as its underachieved sequel, this Australian charmer is seamlessly edited and perfectly directed by newcomer Chris Noonan.
Academy Award: Best Visual Effects
Nominations: Best Picture; Best Supporting Actor (Chris Noonan); Best Director (Chris Noonan); Best Adapted Screenplay; Best Art Direction; Best Film Editing
Golden Globe Award: Best Picture-Musical/Comedy