A Wonderful “Children’s Film” In Retrospect
Rated G. Running time: 1 hour 29 min.
Our content ratings (0-10): Violence 1; Language 0; Sex/Nudity 0.
Our star rating (0-5): 5
From now on, therefore, we regard no one from a human point of view; even though we once knew Christ from a human point of view, we know him no longer in that way.
2 Corinthians 5:16
For he is our peace; in his flesh he has made both groups into one and has broken down the dividing wall, that is, the hostility between us. He has abolished the law with its commandments and ordinances, that he might create in himself one new humanity in place of the two, thus making peace, and might reconcile both groups to God in one body through the cross, thus putting to death that hostility through it.
Although there are still adults who have not seen Babe because they mistakenly think that it is “just a children’s film,” many more have discovered that both the humor and the insights into relationships make this a film literally for “children of all ages.” Introduced in the narration as a fable about a little pig “with an unprejudiced heart,” this is the story about how one person (or creature) can make a difference in a world that accepts too easily” the way things are.”
When Farmer Hoggett wins the little pig in a lottery at the fair, he names it Babe and takes it home, where sheep dog Fly kindly welcomes the pig into her family of pups. Her gruff mate Rex would prefer not to mix creatures, but he reluctantly goes along with her, keeping himself at a distance from him.
Babe learns that on the farm there are strict boundaries to be observed, pigs definitely are not allowed in Farmer Hoggett’s house, nor allowed to go with the dogs when they are led out to herd the sheep. The latter, Babe has been told, are “stupid,” requiring the firm guidance of man and dog for survival.
What the apostle Paul called “ a dividing wall of hostility” Babe discovers after Fly the dogs go out with Farmer Hoggett into the pasture, leaving the little pig behind to encounter darker side of life on the farm. Attracted by the sound of moaning and coughing coming from a shed, Babe goes to the door and calls to the creature. It replies, “Darn wolf!” Babe replies that he is not a wolf. “What are you?” Babe asks. “A ewe,” comes the reply. Mistaking the answer, Babe again asks, “What are you?” When Babe sees the creature and calls it a sheep, the ewe pointedly responds that she is not a common sheep, but an ewe, a mature female sheep. She introduces herself as Maa.
When Maa sees how polite Babe is, she tells him that he is not at all like those “wolves” who “treat you like dirt.” She describes the dogs as mean and vicious, savages, some of them so bad that they “run a sheep down and tear it to pieces.” Babe protests that Fly would never do that, and Maa responds, “A right vicious creature is she.” The old ewe says that such “a gentle soul” as Babe should not be mixing with such bad company.
It is a troubled little pig who returns to his bed in the barn. Cruel? Vicious? He had never seen Fly act that way! Questions as to what the dogs do in the fields all day plague him until, at the end of the day, Farmer Hoggett’s wagon, with Fly riding in the back, returns to the farmyard. Fly licks him in a motherly fashion. Surely the old sheep was wrong, Babe thinks, and promises himself that he will never think badly of another creature.
Babe has discovered what most children learn sooner or later, that society entertains certain stereotypes of those regarded as outsiders, undesirables. Dogs are “wolves” to the sheep, “mean and vicious.” And in turn, the sheep dogs inform Babe that sheep are all “stupid.” Such stereotypes determine the way members of the two groups relate to one another: the sheep shun contact with “wolves;” the sheep dogs, convinced of the stupidity of the sheep use fear, and some times actual violence, to make the sheep do what Farmer Hoggett wants them to do. In Jesus’ day it was “Jews have no dealings with Samaritans,” and today prejudicial stereotypes continue to keep apart members of different racial and ethnic groups. And now Babe has come upon Maa who does not fit the stereotype of “stupid.” He finds that Maa is actually a wise old creature, perfectly capable of rational thought and communication, definitely not “stupid.” And no one has treated Babe more kindly than has Fly, so he knows that Maa ‘s stereotyping her as a wolf is not accurate.
How Babe wrestles with this, eventually bringing the two groups together so that they can cooperate in the best interest of Farmer Hoggett makes for delightful and inspiring viewing. The music adds to the latter, especially a song to which Farmer Hoggett dances, expressing his joy. This is another of those films too good to leave just to the kids.
Note: I loved this film so much thatI wrote a Vacation Bible School curriculum and used it with the children at my last church. For information on how you can purchase it, contact me at: firstname.lastname@example.org, or write to: Visual Parables, 63 Boone Lake, Walton, KY 41094.