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Chris Noonan
James Cromwell, Magda Szubanski, Christine Cavanaugh
Writing Credits:
George Miller, Chris Noonan

A pig raised by sheepdogs on a rural English farm, Babe learns to herd sheep with a little help from Farmer Hoggett.

Rated G.

Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
English DTS-HD MA 5.1
Spanish DTS 5.1
French DTS 5.1
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 92 min.
Price: $14.98
Release Date:4/5/2011

• Audio Commentary with Writer/Producer George Miller
• “The Making of Babe” Featurette
• “George Miller on Babe” Featurette
• “Requirements for CIA Acceptance” Text


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Babe [Blu-Ray] (1995)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (May 13, 2022)

Although Oscar Best Picture nominees tend to fit a certain pattern, every once in a while the Academy slips an oddball past the goalie. In this category, we find 1995’s Babe, a family tale about an overachieving pig.

An adaptation of Dick King-Smith’s 1983 novel The Sheep-Pig, we meet Babe (voiced by Christine Cavanaugh), a piglet orphaned when his mother goes to the slaughterhouse. Though he doesn’t raise pigs, stoic farmer Arthur Hoggett (James Cromwell) wins Babe in a contest and brings him to live with his menagerie.

In this new setting, Border Collie Fly (voice by Miriam Margolyes) takes a shine to Babe and raises him alongside her pups. Babe learns how to herd sheep as well, and this leads him on an unlikely journey.

Someday I want to turn to a woman after an evening of romantic pleasure and say “that’ll do, pig”. When that happens, I expect this site will go defunct since I doubt I’ll survive this decision.

My death wish aside, Babe offers an unusually good family movie. Despite many chances for it to turn sappy, cloying and annoying, it always stays on the right side of that line.

The miraculous nature of this achievement can’t be understated. With a children’s story like Babe, the film could easily go toward the juvenile side along with cheap emotion.

Superficially, Babe toys with these tendencies. We get cutesy elements like the “Greek Chorus” of mice who narrate chapter breaks and sing oldies like “Blue Moon” as well as plenty of other potentially annoying choices.

Of course, the basic plot of a pig who becomes a “sheep dog” offers a silly concept at the core. Throw in components like a duck who aspires to act as a rooster and Babe offers a movie that looked destined to entertain the 6 and under set but no one else.

Despite all these potential pitfalls, Babe creates an utterly charming fable. It manages to feel earnest and warm, without the phony telegraphed emotion I might expect.

At its core, Babe offers a message about how one shouldn’t judge a book – or a pig, or a duck, or a sheep – by its cover. While not exactly revolutionary, the movie still makes its points well.

This stems for the film’s basic gentle nature. It never forces anything, so the theme nudges us in a subdued manner without any heavy-handing moralizing.

The actors help a lot. Cromwell earned an Oscar nomination as Hoggett, and he does a lot with limited dialogue, as he delivers a taciturn presence who communicates in small ways.

Cavanaugh gives Babe a very cartoony voice, and this feels like a choice that should flop. However, she imbues our lead with so much personality and emotion that her choice soars.

As “Saturday morning” as Cavanaugh’s performance can sound, she delivers Babe’s feelings and attitudes in a remarkable manner. She makes Babe a much more three-dimensional character than one might expect.

The visual effects of Babe hold up well over all this time. The movie mixes real animals, animatronics and CG in a manner that works nicely – and indeed probably fares better than the all-CG approach we’d now get might.

Babe offered a pleasant surprise 27 years ago, and it continues to delight now. Sweet, charming and loveable, the movie brings one of the all-time great family flicks.

The Disc Grades: Picture C-/ Audio B/ Bonus C+

Babe appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.85:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. This became a dated and inconsistent presentation.

In general, sharpness appeared adequate, as most of the film boasted acceptable to good delineation. However, some moderate edge haloes damaged fine detail, as did the use of noise reduction.

Babe came with what vaguely looked like grain but that felt more like video noise. The image lacked a natural impression and seemed processed.

No issues with jagged edges or moiré effects materialized. Print flaws stayed modest, as I saw a few specks and nothing more.

Babe opted for a warm, often golden palette that suffered due to the processing and noise. While the hues should appear vivid and rich, instead they tended to seem heavy and oppressive.

Blacks seemed a bit crushed, while shadows came across somewhat dense. This was a problematic transfer that just narrowly rose above “D” level.

Though not dazzling, at least the movie’s DTS-HD 5.1 fared better. The soundscape tended toward ambience most of the time, with an emphasis on the farm environment.

At times the track kicked to life a little more, mainly during slapstick antics, thunder or fireworks. These brought some activity and involvement, but the soundfield mostly stayed with music and gentle outdoors ambience.

Audio quality worked fine, with speech that seemed natural and concise. Music appeared full and rich.

As noted, effects didn’t enjoy a lot of prominence, but they still felt accurate and dynamic, without distortion. This was a more than adequate mix for an unassuming movie.

A few extras appear here, and we get an audio commentary from writer/producer George Miller. He provides a running, screen-specific look at the source novel and its adaptation, story/characters, cast and performances, music, sets and locations, the use of animals, effects and related topics.

On the negative side, Miller occasionally just narrates the movie. He also probably devotes more of the discussion to the specifics of how the film brought the animals to life, as this gets a bit redundant.

Nonetheless, Miller offers a generally good chat. Even with some of those minor flaws, he delivers a lot of useful info and turns this into a fairly effective commentary.

Two short featurettes appear: The Making of Babe (3:56) and George Miller on Babe (6:12). In the former, we hear from a bunch of unnamed visual effects folks, while the latter simply features

“Making” concentrates on the methods used to allow the animals to create believable vocal mouth moments, whereas the second piece discusses what led Miller to the project as well as cast and story/character domains.

Both offer some good information. Neither runs long enough to deliver real depth, but they work better than one might expect given their brevity.

A charming little family fable, Babe hits all the right notes. It sends s message without too much moralizing and seems sweet without sappiness. The Blu-ray offers appealing audio and a few bonus materials but visuals appear dated and erratic. I like the movie but it could use a new transfer.

Viewer Film Ratings: 4.6666 Stars Number of Votes: 3
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