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In my opinion one of the year's best films, I cannot help but pity poor
Universal and director George Miller for the loss of the sequel to "Babe."
Kudos go to them for making a film so original and daring, so out of place
in the family film market today, as it defies almost everything that stands
for these days: you don't forget the entire movie within a few hours;
rather, it stays with you, filling your head with bold and imaginative
images that rival those of the best children's books out there.
"Babe: Pig in the City" is much like many other great sequels ("The Empire Strikes Back," "Aliens") in that it is superior to the original but so different from it, that it is not even worth making a comparison of the two. Why have so many people rejected it? Why was it on so many critics' ten best lists, and the public shunned it so much? It is really rather simple. There is no place for a THOUGHT-PROVOKING family film in this day and age, with the exception of perhaps "The Prince of Egypt."
The thing that makes me laugh here is, teenagers and adults alike are commenting on how violent "Babe 2" is, yet if I remember correctly few or no animals at all die in the film. And no big deal seems to be made when the same stuff happens to human beings in "family films."
To be honest, I don't think they should have rated it G, simply because it seems that anyone seeing this under the age of nine would be confused and perplexed by it. Most people over that age however should be able to follow it well, and understand that the things happening in it are no worse than what kids (and especially teens) see everyday, whether it's on TV's "The Simpsons" (my favorite show) or something at the multiplex (a whole ARMY of people gets drowned in "The Prince of Egypt"- a PG rated film).
In the end I am truly hoping that "Babe: Pig in the City" is given at least some Oscar nominations, especially for the art direction, cinematography, and visual effects- all of which were superb. A great movie, even though it has not found an audience.
This movie just screams: "Give it another chance!"
Many people just don't get it. They may tell you this movie is too dark for children. Don't believe them. This is a great movie for children. Didn't "Snow White" have an old hag try to kill her with a poison apple. Death is darker than any "dark tone" laid out in this gorgeous piece of cinema, but "Snow White" didn't get as many negative comments as this movie. The kids that watched the original "Babe" have grown up, and so did the franchise. Sure the movie may have a few adult moments than the original; for instance, most kids won't understand the whole Mrs. Hoggett cavity search incident. But overall this movie presents the great moral that everyone should be good to each other over everything else, even to someone who might have done something wrong to you. That is a message that everyone, adults and children, should hear and consider. In the end, "Babe" achieves respect and gains a whole new group of friends from his good deeds, and everyone is happy including the audience. I think this movie will be considered a classic sometime in the future, as it should be.
First off, this movie is not a kids' movie. Many critics have accused
Babe: Pig in the City of being too dark and violent for children. Let's
remember that George Miller also filmed the three Mad Max films - what did
This film is a masterpiece - it has a story that may seem simple but is full of symbolism; it is full of amazing special effects and animatronics; and it has incredible compositions and film directing.
The special effects have improved considerably since the first film. In fact, one scene involves over 300 talking animals! The goldfish were very convincing and the cute little cat is adorable.
The filming of this movie was incredible. No one can forget the shot of his silhouette as he looks out the stain-glass window at his owner. Or the shot of Polonious holding the goldfish in the center of the room.
In no way can the first Babe movie and its sequel be compared. The two are entirely different. And though the story may seem childish, the film has so many sub-plots that can teach us a lot. The one that stands out the most to me is Polonious and his "Godfather"-like role. He strives so hard to be human, and when he accepts the fact that he is a monkey he comes the closer to being human then he had ever been. So many people today need to accept who they are in order to become what they want.
Don't quickly dismiss this film as one for children. Give it a chance and you will be rewarded.
I would just like to thank Gene Siskel for all the tribute he gave to this
movie. He ranked it as the best movie of 1998!! I would have to agree with
him! This has got to be one of the funniest, wildest, best films of all
time!!! The first "Babe" is pale in comparison to this movie! Anyway, it's
about how Mrs. Hoggat is in debt, so she takes Babe to live in the big city
with her. When Babe gets there, he meets tons of new animal friends, cats,
dogs, monkeys, you name it! I also remember how the one monkey lady would
always call him "the pig whitey thing". There were so many animal
characters, but yet it worked because they were all each in some way
important to the story. The duck was funny, too! Give us more of the duck!
It was also cool how the bulldog wanted everyone to obey Babe, and it was
like he was Babe's protector. What was also satisfying was how at the end,
they told about what happened to all of the animal characters. It makes you
realize how these animals all have their own communities and such. That's
why I adore movies like this and "Homeward Bound: The Incredible
I'll never forget my favorite part, the scene at the end where Mrs. Hoggat was flying in those big trousers and everyone was in a frenzy to get Babe. And they made cute references, like the part where Babe was giving the jellybeans ("Thank the pig") was probably a reference to the pope, I believe. I can't believe this movie has no quotes! Please don't listen to the Leonard Maltin review. I personally think the first "Babe" was darker than BPITC. Anyway, this is truly a wonderful film. I've only seen it once (I think) so rent it today! A perfect 10/10.
Babe: Pig In The City is captivating; a triumph. It's right up there with
other subversive, surreal masterpieces like Delicatessen and The Cook, The
Thief, His Wife And Her Lover, but in spite of what you might have heard
Babe 2 isn't too dark for children, or for any older human. It's full of
many wonderfully melancholy moments but it's not nasty. Above all Babe: Pig
In The City is a triumph for gentleness and a plea on behalf of the
marginalised; the weak in our community. It's one of the best films yet made
and an ideal film for children to see.
What did Hollywood expect? Writer/director of Babe: Pig In The City, Australian George Miller couldn't be expected to roll over and produce a sweet (read merchandisable) sequel to the original Babe. He's far too human and thoughtful for that.
George Miller for heaven's sake has been intimately involved with The Mad Max Films, Lorenzo's Oil, Flirting, Dead Calm, Bangkok Hilton (TV), The Year My Voice Broke and The Dismissal (TV) a list that has no hint within it of a thoughtless panderer to the consumer society. The Witches Of Eastwick was the only aberration and Miller reportedly hated that experience, swearing to never work with Hollywood again, not on their terms anyway.
But then there was the phenomenon of Babe which made a fortune. Miller consented to do a sequel but demanded final cut and dismayed the toy makers when they found that Babe 2 didn't fit in with the money machine. So Babe: Pig In The City was dumped, with bad reviews generated probably from people who haven't even bothered to see it.
Babe: Pig In The City sees James Cromwell as Farmer Hoggett dumped (down a well) early in the film and the famous sheep-pig heading off to the city with Mrs Hoggett (Magda Szubanski) to earn some money to save the farm. The Pig gets separated from Mrs Hoggett and becomes aligned with a set of urban frightened animals who are threatened with being evicted from their homes. Babe saves the day by means of his sweet, giving nature.
This film looks wonderful. The same digitalised mouth movements to match speech are used as in the original movie. Similarly amazing animal training has the stars doing wonderful things as they tell the story and the sets are simply superb. The city is a composite of Sydney, New York , Paris, London and others with the copperplate ETERNITY graffiti well known by older Sydneysiders sitting gently above it all; an appropriately sensitive emblem for the world Miller has created.
Babe 2 is about innocence; about children. Some would say that the film is concerned with Animal Rights but I don't think it's drawing too long a bow to say that the film is commenting on the loss of power and self determination many millions are feeling in the western world as their jobs are disappearing. The lost, threatened animals in Babe have an aura of hopelessness, or at least helplessness before the bright and brave Babe shows them the way to assert themselves.
Babe: Pig In The City is also often very funny, very human, even if animals are the stars. It's an absolute must see for all animal lovers, of any age. And if you think it's too dark, well grow up. That's life.
Although it might initially seem like a strange comparison, I must rate
"Babe: Pig in the City" alongside "Alien 3" as two of the most grotesquely
misunderstood and underappreciated films of the last 10 years. Both films
are brilliantly crafted, with complex elements of plot, theme, and
that stunned and confused moviegoers expecting to see films that resembled
their respective predecessors. The challenges that Babe faces in his
adventure are much more demanding-- both of Babe himself and of his
viewers-- than any mere sheep-herding competition.
Gene Siskel's assessment of "P.i.t.C." as the best film of 1998 is completely accurate-- it even exceeds the standards of such award-winners as "Shakespeare in Love" and "The Truman Show," which says quite a bit about a certain little pig.
The dark tone-- one that makes this movie unsuitable for kids under 10-- is established very early, with an accident that gives Babe (and us) a horrible scare and that sets up the necessity for Babe and Mrs. Hoggett (a delightfully comic character who brings needed levity to the movie) to venture into the forboding city. The city itself is a visual masterpiece, incorporating well-known landmarks from around the world, adding to the universality of the movie's message.
The direction is flawless-- which is quite an achievement considering the myriad animatronic animals that were used; the climactic scene in which Mrs. Hoggett "bungees" around a ballroom, trying to rescue "her pig," is one of the most memorably hysterical scenes in recent memory.
Each of the "P.i.t.C's" many characters is carefully developed to an extent that is rarely seen today-- from Thelonius to Flealick, each dog, cat, goldfish, bird, or monkey adds something uniquely *human* to Babe's experience in the city. Together, the animals create a subtle lesson about the importance of self-acceptance and of maintaining one's integrity of identity. Most importantly, the film conveys this message without ever becoming trite or hyperglycemic in its presentation of the plot events-- even the more unpleasant ones (the goldfish...)-- or of the characters.
Rating: 10/10. There is NOTHING about which to nit-pick with "Babe: Pig in the City" when it is NOT interpreted as a children's movie.
A film that seems too odd to be truly made for kids -- seems director Miller put one over on the producers. the resulting film is a vivid fantasy about a talking pig with a bloated ego (presumably because he's a hero from the first film in the series) who makes the trip to the big city and has to make his way in a house full of animals when "their" humans disappear. Interestingly grown-up social satire as Babe rescues a pit-bull who uses his muscle to enforce the pig's utopic vision of animal community. Rooney appears in an excellent bit as a strange circus clown for whose death Babe is apparently responsible. The finale features a crazy group rumble a la Marx Brothers that will please everyone in the audience -- a class A product, too good to be popular, but sure to please anyone not attatched to its more treacly forebear.
This film will one day be recognized as a classic. It is cinematic magic from beginning to end. Who cares what it is about and whether it is dark (and what film doesn't have a dark element, there is a nasty trend where we are supposed to keep the darker impulses from the wee ones, as if ignorance is wisdom), it is wonderful to look at, the acting is amazing, the animals are perfectly on cue, the action sequences are brilliant. It is a lovely and colorful dream, that yes might be a bit fantastical. So what? Imagine what a difference a movie set must be when it is predominantly animals in the movie.
It is unfortunate that this movie is being marketed as a children's movie. It's having a tough time at the box office against its more heavily cross-merchandised competitors. So many people will not be able to discover that "Babe: Pig in the City" is truly a remarkable and totally unique achievement in film. It would be an injustice if this movie were not nominated for the Best Production Design Oscar, because its visuals are stunning. Babe is the center of the story, but he's not the main focus. Wonderful voice acting gives life to a motley bunch of chimps, dogs, and cats. But I've gone on too long. Go see this movie before it leaves the theatres!
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Babe: Pig in City is a deeply stylized, Alice-in-wonderland
interpretation of talking animal films. While its predecessor, Babe, is
traditional and safe, the sequel offers more of a post-modern
world-view that encapsulates various structural narrative elements,
including: expressionism, absurdism, futurism, and existentialism. I
now wish to conduct an analysis of the piece and describe how these
elements apply. I intend, however, to show how the film predominantly
relies upon the expressionistic and absurdist structures. Here's why.
Expressionism: In a way, the film seems to mourn over the loss of spirituality. By 'spirituality,' I mean the essence of comfort and balancein a word, "home." As the expressionistic structure suggests, the art we create ought to include characters that try and reclaim their homes of comfort by recognizing the world as imbalanced. Only with this recognition can we then seek and desire to reclaim balance, and thus our homes of comfort. As applied to the film, Babe's home of comfort is upset when he accidentally falls down the rabbit hole (i.e. well). Consequently, he indirectly compromises the life of his owner and severely bed-rids him. With the bank's hefty demands and the farmer's wife unable to pay the farm-land debt, she takes Babe away from his spirituality and embarks upon a mission with him into the city. Her overarching objective: to reclaim enough money to sustain and preserve the farm. Babe's overarching objective: to reclaim his spiritualityhis home. Both characters need each other to fulfill the other's objective, thus suggesting our need to serve and love others. Upon entering the big city, Babe recognizes a dramatic change in his environment. It's a strange place, and this leads us now to analyze the absurdist qualities the film possesses.
Absurdism: The absurdist structure seeks to purposefully defamiliarize the audience to that which they have become familiarized with. Its purpose is to help people not take life for granted, but to recognize just how truly amazing and wonderful this life is; not to forget show how profoundly strange it is too. As applied to the film, Babe becomes unfamiliar with his environment upon entering the new, strange city. There is a sense of uneasiness he feels as his lonesome eyes scan the city from a birds-eye-view looking out an open window. As he looks, the film literally begs the question within Babe's soul: "What kind of establishment is this?" The filmmakers, too, seem to ask the audience the same question(s) in reference to earth-life. Questions like: What kind of place is this? What is reality? Why are we here and where are we going? Like Babe, we are all foreign pilgrims traveling through an unfamiliar world as we desperately try and familiarize ourselves with our surroundings. Also like Babe, we are all searching for the cure to our spiritual homesickness. We find this cure by developing an expressionistic desire to restore our fallen, imbalanced lives, but only after we have recognized just how absurd our imbalanced lives really are. There are some individuals who never become enlightened to this. They are not consciously aware of life's absurdity, and so view their lives as balanced and in no need of curing. Consequently, their souls hunger on a very deep subconscious level for spiritual reconciliation because they are unable to acquire absurdist-like glasses, and therefore do not rigorously question life as something that ought to be deeply questioned.
Existentialism: Life for an existentialist only gains genuine and authentic meaning by one's active level of participation in the life process. The meaning that we find in life is ours to create; it's as if it floats out in the ether just waiting for us to reach out and grabbut it cannot be dictated and made somehow objective by authorities/institutions. It also is a structure that causes people to ask the "why" questions of life. In the film, Babe is chased down by a pack of ravenous dogs that try and violently hurt him. Upon seeing the destruction they create, Babe humbly asks, "Why?" This question is profoundly existential and it seems to ask the audience why we live in such a bleak and violent world filled with hateful beings. Along the same line, the film seems to presuppose that there's something wrong with the world that Babe/we live in, and it's up to us to fix it. To fix our world, we're going to need high moral principles. The film teaches us to live with high moral principles when Babe is shown saving the life of his enemy drowning in a river.
Babe: Pig in the City is a wonderfully charming yet also thought-provoking tale that can entertain both child and philosopher. At its core is a sweet, ingenuous pig that possesses the type of morale that every human being ought to possess too. In this sense, the film seeks to uplift people, helping them to live as Babe does. Though it may appear that he possesses an inferior and weak personality, the filmmakers suggest that it is only those who humbly exempt themselves from the limelight who are exalted in the end. The story of Babe does just that.
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