A baby pig’s goodwill toward other farm animals wins him many friends and ultimately proves that persuasion is better than aggression. [Dir: Chris Noonan/ James Cromwell, Magda Szubanski/ 92 min/ Family, SciFi-Fantasy, Comedy/ Persuasion vs. Force, Social Tollerance]
“This is the tale of an unprecedented heart.” With those words begins this story of “Babe,” an orphaned piglet who wins the friendship of dog and sheep alike by treating all alike. Babe’s adventure begins when, as a young piglet, he is suddenly transferred to a new farm – significantly, a sheep farm. There he tries to adopt the ways of the masterly sheep dogs (his adoptive guardians); but being a pig of extraordinary goodwill, he just can’t bring himself to treat the sheep as hereditary collective inferiors as instructed by the dogs. At one point the dogs urge him to force the sheep to move in a certain direction by threat of violence, but violence just isn’t part of his character. Instead, as the suggestion of one of the sheep, he politely requests that the sheep cooperate, which they apparently had been ready to do all along if only asked. Farmer and dogs then watch amazed as the sheep file in nest pairs in the requested direction. All the aggression of the dogs turns out to be not only unnecessary but also counterproductive. So, tolerance is good and aggression is bad – pretty libertarian stuff here, even if it is subtly woven into the story. All this is told in a playfully ironic fairy-tale fashion, from the animals’ perspective, the animals being of the intelligent and English-speaking type. Through some tricks of the camera, they are given an unusual degree of human facial expression as well. The hilly Australian location with its neat farms and thatched cottage looks like just the sort of place a fairy tale might happen. This upbeat, often amusing film benefits from a superior story and Academy Award-winning special effects. In the sequel, Babe: Pig in the City, Babe is on his way to a sheep-herding contest when overbearing drug enforcement agents divert him and his human mistress and from their intended destination. Subsequently, the two are accidentally separated, and Babe is swept into a big city adventure in which he ends up saving a vividly diverse menagerie of city-dwelling animals from animal control authorities. This film is darker in its comedic content that the original, but it’s at least as entertaining and is likewise blessed with outstanding animal “performances.”
This article was reprinted from Jon Osborne's Miss Liberty's Guide to Film and Video: Movies for the Libertarian Millenium, available in the Advocates Liberty Store.