Monday, February 18, 2008
Babe; fantasy comedy, Australia / USA, 1995; D: Chris Noonan, S: Christine Cavanaugh (voice), Miriam Margolyes (voice), Danny Mann (voice), James Cromwell, Magda Szubanski
A farmer and his wife buy a little pig called Babe and bring it to their farm. Babe doesn't have his own family, thus he befriends the duck, Ferdinand, and finds a mother in a sheepdog who "adopts" him. Babe starts controling sheep and gains the attention of the farmer who places him as his sheep-pig. He even enlists Babe in a sheepdog contest, where he wins the first prize.
Winner of a Golden Globe as best motion picture - musical or comedy, "Babe" is an incredibly sweet and charming family tale. First of all, it's hard to make a children's film that's innocent, but also at the same time sharp enough to intrigue the grown up audience, and the authors of "Babe" did this with ease: that's the difference with other kids films that work only at moments, and this one that works all the time due to its wit. Secondly, Chris Noonan had a difficult task since directing animals as protagonists in a film is almost impossible, yet even that obstacle was eliminated. The sole sequence where Babe enters the Farmer's house in order to get the clock, but his leg gets wound up in a thread of yarn, so the nervous duck Ferdinand comes to realease him with his beak, accompanied by Camille Saint-Saëns's sweet "Symphony No. 3", is pure example of meticulous crafting of the filmmakers and their enormeous effort in every little detail. The scene where the sheep dog lady Fly is sad because her dog puppies are sold away from the farm is another example of simple, yet touching method of movie making, the style and the satirical gags that "passed" through the story are great, while there is even a good dose of great shot composition present. The only problem is that the last 20 minutes of the film are rather pointless and vague, revolving around the obscure sheep dog contest that abandoned the clear magical narration of the "unimportant" world of the animals, but other than that this is an excellent achievement: from the animals up to the human protagonists (especially excellent James Cromwell as the kind farmer), everything works down to a T.