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A runt piglet is won by a sheep herder at a state fair, changing the lives of everyone at the farm forever. Babe, missing his mother, feels completely alone in his new surroundings. When the sheepdog, Fly, is nursing her own sorrow in losing her sold-off pups, she adopts Babe into her heart. Babe loves Fly, and tries to mimic her sheepdog behavior, much to the chagrin of Fly’s mate, Rex. Everyone on the farm thinks that Babe should adhere to his “place” as a pig, and just accept the fact that one day, he will be killed and eaten, like all other pigs. Babe is unwilling to accept this horrible fate. Meanwhile, the Farmer Hogget quietly notices that Babe is different from other pigs. He encourages Babe to practice his sheepdog skills on the sly, knowing that anyone who found out would mock him. Babe longs to be like the dogs he was raised with, and attempts to herd the sheep the way they do – with force. He finds, however, that kindness goes a lot farther than force when asking someone to do something for you. Hogget has faith in Babe’s ability as a sheep pig. In fact, he believes in him so deeply that he enters him in a sheepdog contest. Now, Babe must proove to Fly, Rex, and the other farm animals that he can accomplish more with a good heart than a cruel one. But even more important to Babe, is not letting down the man who has so much faith in him.
This sweet story can certainly give city kids a glimpse at country living and where meat comes from, but it also has some important morals for children as well. First of all, everyone deserves respect. Set aside what you look like or where you were born, and remember that everyone has feelings, and deserves the same amount of respect. Secondly, don’t worry about what other people think. Just because it hasn’t been done in the past, doesn’t mean that it can’t be done. You don’t have an assigned “place” in life – everyone creates their own place. Finally, words don’t mean nearly as much as the actions a person takes towards what they truly believe in: the person in this story who has the least amount to say, actually makes the biggest impact on the world around him.
(If you have additional ideas on how this film can be used for educational purposes, please let us know in the comments below.)
Narrator (first lines) : This is a tale about an unprejudiced heart, and how it changed our valley forever. There was a time not so long ago when pigs were afforded no respect, except by other pigs; they lived their whole lives in a cruel and sunless world. In those days pigs believed that the sooner they grew large and fat, the sooner they’d be taken into Pig Paradise, a place so wonderful that no pig had ever thought to come back.
Ferdinand: Look, there’s something you should know.
Ferdinand: Humans eat ducks!
Babe: [Gasps] I beg your pardon?
Ferdinand: Ah, most ducks prefer to forget it, but the fact is that humans like to eat plump, attractive ducks.
Babe: Ohhh, I don’t think so. Not the Boss, not the Boss’s wife.
Ferdinand: Oh, come on. Humans don’t eat cats – why?
Babe: Well, they’re…
Ferdinand: They’re indispensable: they catch mice. Humans don’t eat roosters – why? They make eggs with the hens and wake everyone up in the morning.
Ferdinand: I tried it with the hens: it didn’t work. So I turned to crowing, and lo! I discover my gift. But no sooner do I become indispensable than they bring in a machine to do the job. Ohhhh-oh-oh. the treachery of it – a mechanical rooster!
Rex: You and I are descended from the great sheepdogs. We carry the bloodline of the ancient Bahou. We stand for something! And today I watched in shame as all that was betrayed.
Fly: Rex, dear. He’s just a little pig.
Rex: All the greater the insult!
Maa: Darn silly carry-on, if you ask me.
Horse: The cat says, they call it Christmas
Ferdinand: Christmas! Christmas dinner, yeah. Dinner means death. Death means carnage! CHRISTMAS MEANS CARNAGE!
[flies away frantically]
Fly: All right – how did you do it?
Babe: I asked them and they did it. I just asked them nicely.
Fly: We don’t ask sheep, dear; we tell them what to do.
Babe: But I did, Mum. They were really friendly.
Narrator: There are many perfectly nice cats in the world, but every barrel has its bad apples, and it is well to heed the old adage, “Beware the bad cat bearing a grudge.”
Narrator: And though every single human in the stands or in the commentary boxes was at a complete loss for words, the man who in his life had uttered fewer words than any of them knew exactly what to say.
Farmer Hoggett: That’ll do, pig. That’ll do.