BABE [1995 / 2011] [Blu-ray] [USA Release]
Fresh, Original and Funny! Absolute Delight! A Little Pig Goes A Long Way!
Academy Award® winner and Best Picture nominee, ‘BABE’ is the inspirational story of a shy Yorkshire piglet who doesn’t quite know his place in the world. But when Farmer Hoggett [James Cromwell] wins him at the county fair, Babe discovers that he can be anything he wants to be – even an award-winning sheepdog! With the help of a delightful assortment of barnyard friends, the heroic little pig is headed for the challenge of his life in this endearing and fun-filled tale the whole family will love. Narrated by Roscoe Lee Browne.
FILM FACT No.1: Awards and Nominations: 1995 Awards Circuit Community Awards: Nominated: Best Actor in a Supporting Role for James Cromwell. Nominated: Best Adapted Screenplay for Chris Noonan and George Miller. Nominated: Best Visual Effects. Nominated: Best Original Score for Nigel Westlake. 1995 New York Film Critics Circle Awards: Win: Best First Film for Chris Noonan [Australia]. 1996 Academy Awards®: Win: Best Effects and Visual Effects for Charles Gibson, John Cox, Neal Scanlan and Scott E. Anderson. Nominated: Best Picture for Bill Miller, Doug Mitchell and George Miller. Nominated: Best Actor in a Supporting Role for James Cromwell. Nominated: Best Director for Chris Noonan [Australia]. Nominated: Best Writing, Screenplay Based on Material Previously Produced or Published for Chris Noonan [Australia] and George Miller. Nominated: Best Art Direction and Set Decoration for Kerrie Brown and Roger Ford. Nominated: Best Film Editing for Jay Friedkin and Marcus D'Arcy. 1996 Golden Globes®: Win: Best Motion Picture for a Comedy or Musical. 1996 BAFTA Film Awards: Nominated: Best Achievement in Special Effects for Charles Gibson [Australia], Chris Chitty, John Cox, Neal Scanlan and Scott E. Anderson. Nominated: Best Film for Bill Miller, Chris Noonan, Doug Mitchell and George Miller. Nominated: Best Editing for Jay Friedkin and Marcus D'Arcy. Nominated: Best Adapted Screenplay for Chris Noonan and George Miller. 2016 20/20 Awards: Win: Felix Award for Best Adapted Screenplay for Chris Noonan and George Miller. Nomination: Felix Award for Best Picture. Nomination: Felix Award for Best Art Direction for Roger Ford. 1996 Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror Films, USA: Win: Best Fantasy Film. Nominated: Best Writing for Chris Noonan and George Miller. 1996 Australasian Performing Rights Association: Win: APRA Music Award for Best Film Score for Nigel Westlake. 1996 Australian Cinematographers Society: Win: Cinematographer of the Year for Andrew Lesnie. 1996 British Comedy Awards: Win: Best Comedy Film. 1996 Broadcast Film Critics Association Awards: Win: Critics Choice Award for Best Family Film. 1996 Chlotrudis Awards: Nomination: Best Movie. Nomination: Best Supporting Actor for James Cromwell. 1996 Genesis Awards: Win: Feature Film. 1996 Golden Screen, Germany: Win: Golden Screen Award. Win: Golden Screen with 1 Star. 1996 Heartland International Film Festival: Win: Studio Crystal Heart Award. 1996 Humanitas Prize: Nomination: Humanitas Prize for Feature Film Category for Chris Noonan and George Miller. 1996 Kids' Choice Awards, USA: Nomination: Blimp Award for Favourite Animal Star. 1996 London Critics Circle Film Awards: Win: Film of the Year. Win: Newcomer of the Year for Chris Noonan. 1996 Motion Picture Sound Editors, USA: Win: Golden Reel Award for Best Sound Editing in an Animated Feature ADR for Libby Villa and Wayne Pashley. Nomination: Golden Reel Award for Best Sound Editing for Sound Effects & Foley for Gavin Myers. 1996 National Society of Film Critics Awards, USA: Win: best Film. 1996 Writers Guild of America: Nomination: Best Screenplay Based on Material Previously Produced or Published for Chris Noonan and George Miller. 1996 Young Artist Awards: Nomination: Best Family Feature in a Musical or Comedy. 1997 Film Critics Circle of Australia Awards: Win: Best Director for Chris Noonan. Win: Best Original Music for Nigel Westlake.
FILM FACT No.2: The main animal characters are played by a combination of real and animatronic pigs and Border Collies. After seven years of development. ‘BABE’ was filmed on location in Robertson, New South Wales, Australia. The talking-animal visual effects were done by Rhythm & Hues Studios and the Jim Henson's Creature Shop. The musical score for ‘BABE’ was composed by Nigel Westlake and performed by the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra. 48 different pigs were used for the part of Babe. According to actor James Cromwell, there was tension on the set between producer George Miller and director Chris Noonan who later complained, "I don't want to make a lifelong enemy of George Miller but I thought that he tried to take credit for Babe, tried to exclude me from any credit, and it made me very insecure... It was like your guru has told you that you are no good and that is really disconcerting." George Miller shot back, "Chris said something that is defamatory: that I took his name off the credits on internet sites, which is just absolutely untrue. You know, I'm sorry but I really have a lot more to do with my life than worry about that... when it comes to Babe, the vision was handed to Chris on a plate." Classical orchestral music by 19th-century French composers is used throughout the film, but is disguised in a variety of ways and often integrated by Westlake into his score. The theme song “If I Had Words” that was sung by Arthur Hoggett [James Cromwell] near the film's conclusion, is an adaptation of the “Maestoso” final movement of the Organ Symphony by Camille Saint-Saëns, and was originally performed in 1977 by Scott Fitzgerald and Yvonne Keeley. This tune also recurs throughout the film's score. There are also brief quotations within the score from Edvard Grieg's “Peer Gynt Suite.” Other music featured is by Léo Delibes, Richard Rodgers, Gabriel Fauré, and Georges Bizet.
Cast: James Cromwell, Magda Szubanski, Zoe Burton, Paul Goddard, Wade Hayward, Brittany Byrnes, Mary Acres, Janet Foye, Pamela Hawken, Karen Gough, David Webb, Marshall Napier, Hec Macmillan, Ken Gregory, Nicholas Lidstone, Trevor Read, Nicholas Blake, Matthew Long, John Doyle and Mike Harris
Voice Cast: Roscoe Lee Browne (Narrator), Christine Cavanaugh (Babe voice), Miriam Margolyes (Fly voice), Danny Mann (Ferdinand voice), Hugo Weaving (Rex voice), Miriam Flynn (Maa voice), Russie Taylor (Duchess the Cat voice), Evelyn Krape (Old Ewe voice), Michael Edward-Stevens (Horse voice), Charles Bartlett (Cow voice), Paul Livingston (Rooster voice), Ross Bagley (Puppy voice), Gemini Barnett (Puppy voice), Rachel Davey (Puppy voice), Debi Derryberry (Puppy voice), Jazzmine Dillingham (Puppy voice), Courtland Mead (Puppy voice), Kevin Jamal Woods (Puppy voice), Jane Alden (Sheep voice), Kimberly Bailey (Sheep voice), Patrika Darbo (Sheep voice), Michelle Davison (Sheep voice), Julie Forsyth (Sheep voice), Maeve Germaine (Sheep voice), Rosanna Huffman (Sheep voice), Carlyle King (Sheep voice), Tina Lifford (Sheep voice), Gennie Nevinson (Sheep voice), Mary Linda Phillips (Sheep voice), Paige Pollack (Sheep voice), Kerry Walker (Sheep voice), Barbara Harris (voice), Jacqueline Brennan (Mouse voice), Doug Burch (Other Character Voices), John Erwin (TV Commentator voice), Doris Grau (Country Woman voice), Tony Hughes (voice), Daamen J. Krall (voice), Charlie MacLean (voice), Justin Monjo (voice), Antonia Murphy (voice), Helen O'Connor (voice), Neil Ross (voice), Scott Vernon (voice), Kay E. Kuter (Man Sitting in Crowd at Sheep Trial) (uncredited) and Karl Lewis Miller (Man Buying 3 Pups) (uncredited)
Director: Chris Noonan
Producers: Bill Miller, Catherine Barber, Daphne Paris, Doug Mitchell, George Miller and Philip Hearnshaw
Screenplay: Chris Noonan, George Miller and Dick King-Smith (novel)
Composer: Nigel Westlake
Cinematography: Andrew Lesnie, A.C.S., A.S.C. (Director of Photography)
Image Resolution: 1080p
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
Audio: English: 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio
English: 2.0 Dolby Digital Stereo
Spanish: 5.1 DTS-HD Digital Surround
French: 5.1 DTS-HD Digital Surround
Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish and French
Running Time: 92 minutes
Region: All Regions
Number of discs: 1
Studio: Universal Pictures
Andrew’s Blu-ray Review: “This is the story of an understanding heart and how it changed our valley forever” so begins director Chris Noonan's ‘BABE’  and is among the most heart-warming tales ever told about a master and his four-legged mate. ‘BABE’ is a magnificently realised modern fairy tale, rife with the unlikeliest of friendships between a runt piglet [poignantly voiced by Christine Cavanaugh] and an aged farmer Arthur Hoggett [James Cromwell]. Originally it came out as a novel by Dick King-Smith's book in 1986 was broadcast on the BBC Radio and on hearing the broadcast Chris Noonan had become entranced with the idea of translating it into a film. Chris Noonan's interests languished for years, since in the days before computer generated graphics there seemed to be no technological way to effectively tell the story and do its material justice.
Jim Henson's Creature Shop assumes the monumental technical responsibilities of grafting believable human expressions onto the animal kingdom’s counterparts. For the most part, live animal footage is employed with a minimal amount of manipulation and even then, only around the eyes and mouths of the barn yard sect. John Cox's animatronics sub in briefly for the more ambitious sequences. In actor James Cromwell, Chris Noonan resolves the much anticipated missing link of the project; namely to discover an actor who can create empathy and believability in his intuitive understanding of a “relationship” without conveying any of it through speech.
The screenplay eventually hammered out by George Miller and Chris Noonan is structured in loose vignettes that begin one glorious summer afternoon when Farmer Arthur Hoggett guesses the approximate weight of a lonely piglet at the county fair. The prize is the runt, nicknamed Babe, who has been left to starve after his mother was taken from him and sent to the slaughter house. ‘BABE’ arrives at a picturesque English farm, which was created by the brilliant Roger Ford's Production Design that you feel is straight out of the world of the Brothers Grimm, and the Farm is also managed by Arthur Hoggett’s rather grotesque plump wife, Esme [Magda Szubanski]. Unaware that the Arthur Hoggett’s intend to fatten Babe up for their Christmas dinner, and Babe delights in meeting the rest of the animals on the farm, but not all the return of Babe.
Babe's early encounters with Rex, the sheep dog [Hugo Weaving] lead to a disquieting animosity that is quelled by Fly [Miriam Margolyes]; the female sheep dog who relates to Babe's loneliness as she might to that of her own pups, especially after they are taken from her and sold to a local farmer. Babe is next befriended by Ferdinand the duck [Danny Mann], a plucky and mischievous fowl who aspires to be a rooster and provides much of the comic relief on the farm. Eventually, Babe learns the truth about the relationship between man and beast through manipulative revelations provided by the Arthur Hoggett's jealous house cat, Duchess [Russie Taylor], that the former raise the latter for their own food supply.
However, Farmer Arthur Hoggett has begun to suspect that Babe may not be worthy of the axe, but duties ascribed Fly and Rex; namely, herding sheep and keeping rustlers at bay. On nothing more than blind faith, for there is no way that animals and humans can communicate with one another, Arthur Hoggett enters Babe in the prestigious sheep herding competitions. Nearly disqualified, the judges reluctantly agree to allow Arthur Hoggett his moment in the pen, believing that he and Babe will be the laughing stock of the event. Instead, and with a little help from Rex and Fly, Babe learns the coveted chant of all sheep, one that commands brethren of the woolly sect to instantly obey him.
Enough cannot be said about the strange poignancy that arises from the relationship between Farmer Arthur Hoggett and Babe. On screen they are the epitome of master and mate and two sides of an invisible and strangely magical alliance linking the human and animal worlds. The Chris Noonan and George Miller screenplay moves the action effortlessly through each vignette, drawing subtle, often critical parallels between humans and beasts. These are as humorous as they prove telling. The script underscores the concept of “which is more animalistic” by nature; the pig or the human, while slowly revealing a more quiet and mutual understanding.
Composer Nigel Westlake's evocative underscoring and Andrew Lesnie's lush cinematography elevate to an entirely new level of sophistication. We feel this story in our hearts primarily because the look and sound of the farmyard is idyllic and beckoning. Therein is the magic in the storytelling. In the final analysis, Babe translates its understanding heart into tangible charm whatever the age of the viewer. It is, indeed, the ‘Citizen Kane’ of all taking pig pictures and should be seen by everyone.
‘BABE’ is filled from beginning to end with marvellous evocative images. There are the animals who can talk to each other, but not to the humans, in subtle mouth movements and well-cast voices; in the never-never land of Arthur Hoggett's farm, which is a realistic setting with just a touch of magic; and endless surprising details, like the trio of lovely cute singing mice who introduce scenes in the film, but are otherwise relinquished to the small corners of the screen, and will delight the more sharp-eyed viewers on the lookout for them throughout the film.
The wonderful heart-warming film ‘BABE,’ and directed by Chris Noonan, who also wrote the screenplay with George Miller, and takes a simple childlike eye view of the world that is photographed to look like a storybook come to life. Without bearing down too heavily, the film suggests a sort of Darwinian order of things, and Babe's experiences, roughly parallel of a child's awakenings to the realities of the world. With his snowy coat, wiggling pink snout and floppy ears, ‘BABE’ the film is a real charmer.
BABE MUSIC TRACK LISTING
TOREADOR SONG from "Carmen" (Music by Georges Bizet)
PIZZICATO from "Sylvia" (Music by Léo Delibes)
CANTIQUE de JEAN RACINE (Music by Gabriel Fauré)
SPRING DANCE from "Lyric Piece, Book IV" (Music by Edvard Grieg)
Symphony No. 3 'Organ', 4th Movement (Music by Camille Saint-Saëns)
BLUE MOON (Music by Richard Rodgers) (Lyrics by Lorenz Hart)
IF I HAD WORDS (Adapted from "Symphony No. 3" by Camille Saint-Saëns) (Lyrics by Jonathan Hodge)
JINGLE BELLS (Music by James Pierpont)
AWAY IN A MANGER (Music by William J. Kirkpatrick) (Lyrics by unknown author)
Blu-ray Image Quality – Universal Pictures presents this lovely film in a glorious 1080p images and is enhanced with a 1.85:1 aspect ratio to help and enhance the film’s wonderful robust colours and fine details that leap from the screen. Blacks are velvety deep and solid. Film grain translates realistically. Greens are especially resplendent in this transfer. Fine detail is often extremely good. Some of the opening shots of the piglets reveal a whole new level of fine hair on their smooth little bodies, and the initial close-up of Arthur Hoggett meeting Babe also brims with abundant detail, especially the fine is natural looking and intact, All in all this is a very nice looking Blu-ray and a considerable upgrade from the inferior DVD release.
Blu-ray Audio Quality – Universal Pictures brings us this glorious Blu-ray disc with a brilliant 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio experience, and even more impressive is the Nigel Westlake's sumptuous underscoring taking centre stage. The audio soundtrack gives a nice summer feel to its ambience, on its own relatively quieter terms. From the first haunting squeals of the “modern farming” pigs to the more sylvan ambient environmental noises of the Arthur Hoggett Farm. The ‘BABE’ soundtrack is alive with various noises which are nicely posited around the sound field of your speakers. Voice work is really excellent throughout the film and is delivered with sterling fidelity. The sweet underscore, including James Cromwell's now iconic singing is also presented with excellent fidelity and enjoyable sonic experience.
Blu-ray Special Features and Extras:
Special Feature: The Making of ‘BABE’  [480i] [1.37:1] [3:56] Despite this very short brief feature, here we have a very interesting look at the Early Tests of making the pig talk with the computer modelling necessary to achieve the mouth movements and facial expressions for the animals. Rhythm and Hues Studios was an American visual effects and animation company that received the Academy Award for Best Visual Effects in 1995 for ‘BABE,’ and in 2008 for ‘The Golden Compass,’ and in 2013 for ‘Life of Pi.’ It has also received four Scientific and Technical Academy Awards and is the CGI animation company that augmented real and animatronic animals to make them speak. Several shots of Babe, the sheep dogs and the sheep speaking are shown in their original state, and then we see all the farm animals turned into a computer generated image. Sadly in 2013 they went out of business.
Special Feature: George Miller on ‘BABE’  [480i] [1.37:1] [6:12] Here we are introduced to George Miller, who was the Producer of the film ‘BABE,’ plus Bill Miller and Doug Mitchell, as well as George Miller and also writing partner Chris Noonan. This feature has George Miller talking about his pet project and makes for a nice companion piece to the audio commentary and throughout this feature we get headings explaining his thought about the film in general and we get a nice lot of clips from the film, with the equally wonderful film composed music. George Miller actually covers a lot more ground than you might think. We get a heading “Where Does Babe Come From?” George Miller starts by recounting on how he first encountered Dick King-Smith’s novel, from the description he heard while flying over to London in 1986. I believe this would be during the time he was finishing the film ‘The Witches of Eastwick,’ and George Miller says that he heard a female BBC announcer who could not stop giggling while trying to describe the novel “Babe” as the best family reading of that prior year. After George Miller reading the book in his hotel room, he immediately determined to make the film and decided to delay the process until after ‘Jurassic Park’ proved that CGI had advanced far enough to make the talking animals possible in a manner that wouldn’t look like Muppets even though Jim Henson’s group did create the animatronic characters for their film. George Miller also relates some other very funny tales, including an argument he had with Tom Pollock, then the Vice-Chair of Universal Pictures about how his unprejudiced film was making a villain out of the only cat in the story. So, George Miller had them add a note into the narration that there are bad apples everywhere, and this specific cat just happens to be a bad apple. George Miller talks about the actors in the film, and especially James Cromwell having to work with the little pig and not having to say a lot of dialogue. George talks about the “Babes Voice” and whether to use a child or an adult’s voice and happen to come across Christine Cavanaugh (pigs voice), who he felt was ideal. With the heading “All Cats Are Not Bad” and talks about he used to be when he was a child would split people up into two groups who were either dog lovers or cat lovers, whereas George was definitely a dog lover. With the heading “Pigs Are definitely Smart” and since directing ‘BABE’ is totally abhorrent at the thought of eating any part of the pig, as he thinks they are totally adorable, and are just as intelligent as dogs. With the heading “A Good Heart” George talks about the outline of the story and the ability of courage, especially with Babe the pig itself, who he felt had such a good heart. One element notably missing from this interview is any discussion of the work with Chris Noonan. So all in all, this was a very nice little special feature.
Audio Commentary with Screenwriter/Producer George Miller: Here George Miller introduces himself and mentions that when you see the credits, he informs us that he was one of the producers and screenwriter with this film, and when you see “A Kennedy Miller Film,” George Miller mentions that it was a company he founded with another partner years ago. George Miller felt with the film ‘BABE’ that he wanted it to feel like “story book” scenario and when you see all the artefacts on the wall you see as the camera pans past them, George felt it gave a real feel to what the film was all about, as well as making the film like a fable. George talks extensively about the composer Nigel Westlake, who he found to be a very talented person and felt he was so totally ideal for his film, as a previous composer let George down. When you see inside the horrible pig rearing farm that is permanently in the dark and where you see the mother sows cruelly carted off to be slaughtered and Babe crying for his mother, George says that the problem of the shooting over a thirteen week period, young pigs grow up very fast and that caused lots of problems with continuity, so of course they had a rotation of young pigs on hand, so you think they are the same original young pigs. When Farmer Hoggett [James Cromwell] first meets Babe at the Fayre, George felt that from then on a bond was made between farmer and pig, with an eventual common destiny together, where they change the world, and of course it is a classic hero story, especially towards Babe. When you see all the different headings that appear at certain points in the film, well this came about after the film was shot and Margaret Sixel, the South African-born film editor, who of course had to view the film while editing it, felt it was too episodic in style, and so “Chapter Headings” were suggested to be inserted into the final print and George felt this helped to make the film more appealing and to help with each storyline chapters in the film, it also helped when they did a film preview with young children, because when it was shown the age group could not read at the time and so the parents had to inform their children what the words said, and so that is how the three small mice were introduced so they could speak the words of the “Chapter Headings.” When you get to seeing the sheep dog puppies being sold, you actually get to see the animal trainer Karl Lewis Miller (1941 – 2008) who was the animal trainer for the film ‘BABE,’ who was a very successful and renowned animal trainer, and had trained thousands of animals were trained by him for their roles in feature films or TV shows, and especially with the famous Doberman scenes in 'REMO WILLIAMS’  who were brilliantly choreographed and to make it really something special, as he got 3 Doberman Pinchers to work in close consultation together and this was because he did outstanding professional work as an action animal trainer at its best, who is now very sadly missed. George points out as we get to the scene where Babe has to do the sheep dog trials, all the strands of the fable story are coming together and especially when it comes to grumpy sheep dog Rex who now really wants to help Babe, and most importantly the sheep dog trials is now having the rules turned upside down. When we get to near the very end of the film, George talks about where James Cornwall is supposedly talking to Babe, but instead is talking at the lens of the camera, and George tells us that instead he is talking like as though he was actually talking to his Father, and George felt that was a very moving experience and when you hear the narrator Roscoe Lee Browne speaks the final words, these are the actual passage at the end of the novel “Babe” by Dick King-Smith. So all in all this is really fascinating and interesting audio commentary by George Miller, and especially going into the nuts and bolts of blending the animatronics, robots and CGI elements with the live animals, as well as the occasional human wrangling. So a definite audio commentary to listen to, as you learn so much on the process of how the film ‘BABE’ came about and especially all the trials and tribulations, which again is a totally fascinating listen, as you really get the feel that George Miller really loved and enjoyed the process of making this heart-warming film and bringing it to the screen for everyone to see and enjoy.
Special Feature: pocket BLU app: The Blu-ray comes with pocket BLU app functionality for those viewers who want to make use of the appropriate smartphone, iPhone, iPad and Android applications. With these features you will be able to stream content and communicate with ease!
Special Feature: BD-Live: To view the contents via your Blu-ray player, it has to be connected to the internet; otherwise it is not BD-LIVE capable. For possible solutions to resolve this problem, please consult your Blu-ray player manual.
Finally, ‘BABE’  is not merely a treat for the eyes. The film's blending of real animals and computer-animated puppetry is seamless to the point that one hardly notices it is computer generated. And the actor’s voices with the farm animals and domestic pets give then distinctive personalities are well chosen and imaginative. Particularly evocative are Hugo Weaving as Rex, a proud, short-tempered sheepdog with a hearing disability; Evelyn Krape as Old Ewe, the fussy but good-hearted Grande dame of the farm's flock of sheep, and Danny Mann as Ferdinand, a cheeky duck who dreams of being a rooster. ‘BABE’ is one fantastic Blu-ray that collectors will definitely want to own especially for its impressive image quality. ‘BABE’ on this Blu-ray disc is not just for the young but the young at heart. All in all, this is a really wonderful and fantastic film, that really gladdens the heart, but will also bring an emotional of joy to you, but be prepared to get the Kleenex tissues out, as you will definitely will shed a few tears of joyous happiness. This is a definite one to add to your Blu-ray Collection. Highly Recommended!
Andrew C. Miller – Your Ultimate No.1 Film Aficionado
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