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The Weekend Australian - Review - - Television - Evan Wil­liams

IN the an­nals of clas­sic Aus­tralian films, who re­mem­bers Chris­tine Ca­vanaugh — or Dick King-Smith? What Aus­tralian film was pro­moted (by Univer­sal Stu­dios in the US) as a hu­mor­ous look at the lim­i­ta­tions and lu­nacy of a pre­or­dained so­ci­ety’’? We’re talk­ing about Babe (Thurs­day, 7pm, 7Two), Chris Noo­nan’s delightful fan­tasy about a piglet who wants to be a sheep­dog, writ­ten by Noo­nan and Ge­orge Miller and based on King-Smith’s novel. Ca­vanaugh pro­vided the voice of Babe, who is raised for slaugh­ter in an assem­bly-line breed­ing pen be­fore find­ing refuge with a kindly farmer (James Cromwell) and win­ning the hearts of other farm­yard an­i­mals — not to men­tion au­di­ences. An in­ter­na­tional hit in the 1990s, the film won an Os­car for its vis­ual ef­fects and was nom­i­nated for six oth­ers, in­clud­ing best pic­ture. Corny, sen­ti­men­tal and ut­terly be­guil­ing, it re­port­edly re­quired the ser­vices of about 500 an­i­mal per­form­ers. A se­quel, Babe: Pig in the City, ap­peared in 1998.

I thought it hope­lessly sug­ary at the time, but ev­ery­one else loved Amelie (Satur­day, 9.40pm, SBS One), the quirky French ro­mance (ac­tu­ally a Franco-Ger­man co-pro­duc­tion) that launched the quirky ca­reer of Au­drey Tautou. Amelie is a waitress shy, lonely, im­pla­ca­bly good-hearted — who dis­cov­ers be­hind a wall of her apart­ment an old tin box full of chil­dren’s toys. Af­ter trac­ing their owner she is in­spired to a new pur­pose in life: de­vot­ing her­self to ran­dom acts of kind­ness. There is no way Jean-Pierre Je­unet’s film would have worked with­out Tautou — her beam­ing smiles, her ec­cen­tric sweet­ness. Je­unet is known as an an­i­ma­tion spe­cial­ist and many of the film’s im­ages were dig­i­tally tweaked to give the story an ex­tra layer of charm, as if ex­tra charm were needed.

The third of Lau­rence Olivier’s great Shake­spearean films, Richard III (Sun­day, 11.25pm, ABC1), was the per­fect ve­hi­cle for Olivier’s air of chilly mag­netism. His riv­et­ing por­trayal of the hunch­backed pre­tender who mur­ders his way to the throne (ac­cord­ing to Tu­dor le­gend) is per­haps his most fa­mous role. For most of the film Richard walks with a limp — a real one, ap­par­ently, the re­sult of an in­jury sus­tained dur­ing the film­ing of the bat­tle of Bos­worth Field, when a bolt from the film’s stunt archer missed its in­tended tar­get (a horse in pro­tec­tive ar­mour) and struck Olivier in the leg.

In Limbo (Fri­day, 11.30pm, 7Two), a bunch of dis­parate and des­per­ate char­ac­ters, in­clud­ing a fish­er­man, a crim­i­nal and a night­club singer and her daugh­ter, are stranded on an is­land, where they sur­vive as best they can while hid­ing from pur­su­ing gang­sters. This wholly en­gross­ing and sat­is­fy­ing film was writ­ten, di­rected and edited by John Sayles, with an ex­cel­lent cast in­clud­ing David Strathairn and Vanessa Martinez. And with­out giv­ing away the end­ing, it’s fair to say Limbo doesn’t have one. ABC1 (PG) ★★★★✩ Thurs­day, 7pm, 7Two (M) ★★★ ✩ Fri­day, 11.30pm, 7Two

(M) ★★★★✩ Sun­day, 11.25pm,

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