CNN Showbiz

'Babe' the pig really sizzles

August 7, 1995

From Jim Moret, CNN Entertainment Correspondent


A fable and a unique coming of age story, "Babe" tells the tale of a young pig trying find his place in the world. Christine Cavanaugh is the voice of Babe. When you hear lines like, "I want my mom," you feel that you're hearing Babe "speaking with a little boy's heart and soul and humanity," she says. "These animals are full of humanity. I think that's one of the charms of this movie." (110K AIFF sound)

Dogs, horses, sheep and pigs -- more than 500 animals in all -- had to be trained for the film. And because the young Yorkshire pigs quickly outgrew their role, animal trainer Karl Miller raised 48 piglets to play the part of Babe.

With patience and edible rewards, the different animals learned to respond to their own sound cues. Miller, the animal trainer, said that made for a confusing situation. "When they said roll camera and the director said `action,'" he said, the sound man would start groaning -- "because they'd be buzzers, horns tooting, bell ringing, and 'sit, down, come, up, stay, back' clickedy click buzz buzz buzz."

And when real animals couldn't do the tricks, animatronic puppets took their place. James Cromwell remarked, "You know when you're working with say an animatronic and you'd only see the head and you see all the people in the booth and doing all the things and you'd think, what will all this look like? Then you'd go with the crew at night and they'd put a shot up (on the screen) with the sheep and you wouldn't be able to tell which was the real sheep and which was the animatronic one." (196K AIFF sound)

As for the real animals, they were in good hands. Miller has also trained Beethoven and Jerry Lee from "K-9." While the animals are rewarded on the set, Miller's reward comes later. "The biggest reward of all is to hear the audience commenting on the work, or even when they don't comment on it, but they're walking out of the theater and they're just as content and pleased, and they've got all the problems of the day off their mind. ... They've been entertained," he said. (180K AIFF sound)

And after the movie was wrapped, anyone who adopted one of the pigs had to first sign an affidavit promising that the star wouldn't end up on their dinner table.


Copyright © 1995 Cable News Network, Inc.