Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Talking Pigs and Salvation

Or a brief story of how a nearly 20 year old film changed my faith thought I was joking when I said my next post would be a film review about this guy: of my favorite movies for around 15 years.
So, first things first. Here are some fun facts about the film Babe.
  1. Babe was nominated for 7 Oscars including four of the top categories: Best Picture, Best Screenplay, Best Director and Best Editing.
  2. James Cromwell was nominated for best supporting actor while only speaking 171 words and singing 61.
  3. 48 different pigs played Babe including sows, boars and barrows.
  4. The actress playing Mrs. Hoggett was only 30 years old. 
  5. Babe won the Golden Globe for best film...beating Braveheart.
  6. After starring in Babe, Cromwell became a vegan.
So...really though. Why in the world would Babe become an important film for a college freshman? Well, partly because it was the first DVD I ever owned. Weird I know. But I won it in one of those weird Welcome Week games...probably the same game of I never where our friend Mindy yelled at us, "It was a SLUMBER PARTY." Those of you who were there will remember why she had to defend herself.

So, yeah. It was the first DVD I owned...and it was the first time that film reached into my soul. Until Babe films had always entertained me, but they had never impacted me. I realized upon watching Babe that film had the ability to reach you in the same ways literature or music can (although it would take another decade before I enjoyed literature).

The key element to Babe for me was always the relationship between Farmer Hoggett and Babe. In a lot of ways this film was the quintessential God-follower of God movie for me. It followed a lot of the paradigms I understood about God. God was a bit stoic. God rarely spoke. But God was inherently good. And God also spoke true identity. Babe was sheep pig even if there never had been a sheep big before. God spoke it, Babe believed it...lives were changed.

I think what makes Babe a powerful movie, even still today is that message. We all at times feel like pigs called to do a dog's work. Well... something kind of like that. We look at where we grew up, what our skill sets are and then we see the deep felt desires of our heart and we say, "This doesn't make any sense. If only..." and that is where Babe shines. Babe almost challenges you to say, "There is no if only. There is only doing...and maybe actually only being. Be what you are to be." That is a powerful message. Especially for a good Baptist kid who never knew quite how to feel comfortable in his own skin.

I have shown this film in many settings. Most before watching dismiss it as a silly kid's movie. They think it is going to be a silly Gordy type film. (Okay...full disclosure. I've never seen Gordy. Maybe I'm worried that I am the guy that likes talking pig movies.) But Babe is essentially an extended parable. It is a story that informs your own story. That is what makes it a movie I keep in my library...and also Babe 2 which is a far inferior movie.

I could actually go on with the things I love about Babe ad nauseum. Instead let me close with two of the most powerful moments in that film for me. The first is the closing moment. The slow motion gate closing, the emotional apex coming. Mrs. Hoggett in tears. Babe leading the sheep through the pen. It is really a beautiful moment. It brings me to tears every time. Consistently.

There is something so satisfying about the ending of Babe. That though the whole world rose against our heroes, they still stood. And again, there is such humanity in that moment. It is such a universal experience to feel your back up against the wall and only one or two people there with you. So, when that gate closes and the whole world cheers, it tugs at your soul.

But the moment that sticks with me more than that looks a little like this. I think it goes back to two things for me. One my love of the image as God being a dancer, and second just the sweet nature of God toward his creation. I think for many of us we can recite verses about the love of God toward us, but we don't think of God as affectionate. We forget the story of Jesus and John. We forget the tender calling of Samuel. We forget that Jesus wept for his friend Lazarus. There are just the stories of God being tender toward us.

And we see that in our earthly relationships. Some parents and children are extraordinarily sweet with one another. There are grandparents that we remember that would do anything to make their grandchildren smile. Yet, we feel anxiety about seeing God as affectionate. Why wouldn't God sing and dance to cheer us in our weakness? Why wouldn't God whisper our name in a moment of overwhelming despair? Babe was a turning point for me in that it helped me realize that God cared. Not just cosmically, but personally. The stories of men and women in the Bible were examples...not just fiction. If they could have a relationship with could I. And if John could lay his head on Jesus' shoulder (though the word is actually chest) then why would God say that is off limits today.

And that is why Babe means so much to me. It broke down walls in my perception of the God of the universe also being a personal God for me. Not in some ego-maniacal kind of way, but in a, even amidst everything else going on in the world, God cares about my little issues. So...go watch Babe. Let's chat.

No comments:

Post a Comment