47 Great Movie Moments #8 – Babe

Babe (1995)

Directed by:  Chris Noonan

Babe the Pig is befriended by the gruff Farmer Hoggett, who has realized that Babe is an effective sheep-herder.  To everyone’s surprise and amusement, Babe is entered into a sheep-herding contest to prove that he is the best he is at what he does.

The Set-up

Babe’s favored position with Farmer Hoggett leads to confusion and jealousy from some of other animals on the farm, especially Duchess the Cat.  In a moment of cruelty, Duchess tells Babe a truth that he did not know, that pigs are primarily raised by humans to eat them.  Demoralized, Babe runs away, and is eventually found in the cemetery, having lost all will to live.  Farmer Hoggett brings him home and attempts to revive him, but Babe has lost trust in his master and remains listless and flat, with the competition only a day away….

The Moment

As Farmer Hoggett attempts to feed Babe with a baby bottle, the normally quiet and reserved man begins…to sing.  If I had words to make a day for you, I’d sing you a morning golden and true…  Babe begins to respond, finally taking some water, and the singing continues.  And then, in a scene which is pure movie magic (and don’t you deny it, you jaded cynic) the singing gives way to dancing!  With a delighted expression, and obviously doing this for the pig he loves, Farmer Hoggett does a little jig around his house, freely sharing the joy in his heart.

It’s actually a very short little scene, over in about two minutes, but it’s a highlight of a fun and uplifting little movie about a pig who is really good at herding sheep simply be being nice to them. James Cromwell was actually nominated for an Oscar for his role as Farmer Hoggett (Best Supporting Actor, for a role who was actually the main human character of the movie, but still not the star), and he is great in the role and really shines in this scene.

I’ve heard it said that film acting is the art of restraint, of choosing how much to hold back.  If that’s so, then the scene is the perfect opportunity for Cromwell to strategically cut loose, and show us what lies below the surface for the gruff Hoggett.  It’s great stuff.

The Payoff

After this perfect 2nd Act Turnaround, Babe goes on to take part in the competition, to overcome some final obstacles, and to win first place, earning the highest praise his master could give him:  “That’ll do, pig, that’ll do.”

 

 

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