Based on Dick King Smith’s “The Sheep Pig”, Babe is the story of a young pig that is taken in by sheep dogs and the farmer Hoggett who eventually becomes a sheep herder himself. At the beginning of the film we first meet Babe in a pig farm where the pigs are shipped to meat factories. Babe only survives this by being the runt of his liter so he his taken to a local fair to won by guessing his weight. Arthur Hoggett, a local farmer guesses his weight because they have an instant connection. Hoggett wins Babe and he brings him back to the farm where they form a very strong bond.
The movie has very strict views on the roles that animals are allowed to be in. There are rules they must oblige by, for example only cats and dogs are allowed in the house, the rooster is the one that wakes the farmers up, and ducks, sheep and pigs are to be eaten. Each animal must follow the rules or they could end up like the duck Ferdinand, as fugitive. The main sheep dog on the farm, Rex, makes it his personal mission to make sure that Babe knows where his place is and that associating with Ferdinand is wrong. When Babe starts to show an interest in sheep herding Rex becomes violent due to the fact that only sheep dogs should be allowed to herd and that Hoggett is actually encouraging Babe. Babe challenges these rules and gives himself a purpose beyond what ‘pigs are meant for’.
Throughout society, the pig is revered more as a source of food. Farmers will raise them to be eaten or to win prizes at fairs. The pig is an intelligent creature, very near to humans, and yet like many other animals is only seen as a meal. Why are these creatures thought of in such a way? They share many of the human social qualities and interactions, maybe even more so. Since it has been this way for generation it is rarely questioned. We see a pig and think of it as more of a dirty animal since it is usually found in mud and even associate with the gross, overeating habits humans sometimes posses. In reality they are, usually, very gentle and smart animals, just like Babe. There are examples that show the relationship between humans and pigs as more than the typical ‘consumer’ and ‘consumed’ but rather as a more mutual and respectful nature.
In Brett Mizelle book Pig, he not only discuses the harsh reality of the pig meat industry, but also comments on the parallel of pigs working with humans by stating that, “These partnerships are designed to take advantage of the pig’s special skills, such as its keen sense of smell or its exceptional intelligence. People have long appreciated the ‘sagacity’ of the pig, and they have recently been shown to have episodic memory” (94 Mizelle). Babe depicts this partnership in a more unusual way then we are used to seeing though. Many pigs are taught to find truffles, or they are raised to win at fairs, and they are even mascots in some instances.
Throughout the movie there are moments when Babe has so much faith in everyone around him when they don’t necessarily reciprocate that. He needs to prove to them that he has a role on the farm and makes them believe in him. The scene where he is sick is the first time that he needs his faith in the humans, and everyone on the farm in general, to be solidified. The most significant moments of human-animal relationship in the movie was the scene near the movies conclusion when Babe, who became distraught after learning that humans eat pigs, is being nursed back to health by farmer Hoggett. This scene is the first time that Babe needs his faith in the humans, and everyone on the farm in general, to be solidified. He refuses to eat at first because he has lost faith in Hoggett, thinking he was only brought to the farm to be eaten. By this point in the movie Hoggett has become very fond of Babe and doesn’t want to have to kill him. This is evident even early on when it is getting close to Christmas dinner and Esme, Hoggett’s wife, assumes that they would eat Babe and starts to prepare for this. Hoggett, a man of few words, sneakily makes comments of how it would be such a shame and when Esme inquires he replies that if Babe were to live he could bring in a good prize of ham at the next fair.
To show Babe that he cares for him, Hoggett starts to sing him a song, which also becomes the staple song for movie. When Babe starts to respond to the song, Hoggett gets up and starts singing and dancing for him. When he is finished, he looks for Babe and finds him eating, having regained his trust. This is a pivotal part in the movie because it really shows how connected Babe and Hoggett are. Since Hoggett can’t speak to Babe and get a response that he can understand he doesn’t try to understand him or even put words were there aren’t any. He just feels something, fueled by his connection to Babe and the drive to make him better, and releases those feelings by singing and dancing. Even when Babe was giving up he didn’t because Hoggett needs him and it is not just to herd sheep but because they have a better connection then any of the other animals on the farm. By the conclusion of the movie, Babe has showed everyone that he is more than food by winning the sheep herding contest and that anyone can change how they are viewed by others.
The film has many different messages and views on how pigs, and many animals, are treated. It can move people to rethink eating pigs, “The film seems to have lead some consumers to forsake pork…as it was reported to have led to a 40 percent drop in pork consumption in Australia” (154 Mizelle). It also can help people become more open minded and to do what Hoggett did, to look at someone, whether that someone be animal or human, for what they are doing and not by what we expect them to be doing. “The moral here is that you shouldn’t judge a sheep by its wool; if a pig can herd sheep, then by all means, let him. And try not to eat him for dinner” (Bernard). This quote reins true that hard work is better than knowing your place.
Mizelle, Brett. Pig. London: Reaktion, 2011. Print.
Bernard, Jami 1995. BRINGING HOME THE BACON ‘BABE’ GOES WHOLE HOG IN PUTTING ON A FAMILY SHOW Review [online] https://www.nydailynews.com/archives/nydn-features/bringing-home-bacon-babe-hog-putting-family-show-article-1.706960 New York Daily News
Figure 1. https://criticsloft.com/babe-1995/
Figure 2. “Pig Of Destiny: A Babe Fansite”. N.p., n.d. Web. 02 Dec. 2014.