Friday, 4 September 2009

The Talking Pig

Once in a while a film comes around that’s so different that to a degree it reinvents film. Sometimes that reinvention is obvious and sometimes it’s less ostensible. In many ways Babe reinvented film. It was not obvious, and more of a slow burn – but it did. From Barnyard, to Charlotte’s Web, and so many more the talking farm has become a staple in many children’s film. And ostensibly Babe is a children’s film. Ah, but underneath the delightful animal machinations the story is one for all ages. A story of hope and acceptance – a tale of an unprejudiced heart.
Babe is in many ways tantamount to an animated film and as in many animated films the voice work by the principal actors is paramount. But more than the voice work; the screenplay for Babe is the heart and soul of the movie. There is just something incredibly heart-warming about Noonan's story. The allegorical implications of the story are perhaps not as far-reaching as Animal Farm; but this is not meant to be done in the vein of Orwell’s satire. At the root of it all, Babe is a story about fitting in.
James Cromwell as The Farmer carries most of the human side of things and he’s effective. Chances are you’ve never seen him quite like this before. Mariam Margolyes voice work as Fly is probably my favourite in the movie – The Sheep Dog. Animals can’t speak – although so many films – animated and non-animated – don’t seem to get that. But if ever they spoke, you get the feeling that they would probably sound like they do in Babe. The voicework is not overdone or nauseating. It’s warm and curiously true.
I actually did not expect to make it into my top 100 films; but as I was ranking the films over and over the name kept popping up. And this is not about which film is better. This is just an enjoyable film...and I like it. So there it is at #88. And I realised that for all its simplicity it's wonderful. There aren’t any huge plot turns, there aren’t any big battle scenes or no Oscar begging performance. But we don’t need all that. Just like you don’t need a garrulous review for this. As James Cromwell said, "That’ll do, Pig."


DEZMOND said...

Hollywood (and the whole world) need more kind, warm and positive movies like BABE was. It so rare to see fully positive movie today. It's all about the killing, action, robots, vampires, fights, conspiracies ... today in Tinsel Town.

Andrew: Encore Entertainment said...

True, it's not only that movies have killing, action, robots, vampires. It's like ALL movies have that. Oh well. I'm still film's bitch though...

Rae Kasey said...

I was so incredibly pleased when James Cromwell landed a nomination for this. That jig he does to cheer up Babe is one of my fondest film memories.