The following is a history of this website and of the various Babar universes...
The Babar Fan Website was first established back in 1998, and bit the dust
in 2002 due to bandwidth limitations. I tried several free hosts, and none of them could handle it. I gave up on
the site for a while and forgot about it until April 2007, when I happened upon the show again while flipping channels
(this time it's on NBC as part of qubo). Since I happened to have all the old website files saved on my computer,
and more importantly, since I have my very own domain now, I decided to resurrect the site. Past
This site focuses on the first
animated Babar TV series produced by Nelvana, but there are several
Babar continuities. Here are some of them:
The books of Jean and Laurent de Brunhoff:
These are the original basis for all the other Babar incarnations. The first Babar book was published in 1931 by
Jean de Brunhoff. Jean died young in 1937 and the series was continued by his son, Laurent de Brunhoff, in 1946.
One notable difference from the more modern continuities, is that Celeste and Arthur are Babar's cousins (yes,
book!Babar marries his cousin). My favorite books so far are "Babar and the Wully-Wully" (so cute!) and
"Babar's Yoga for Elephants" (also super cute and even informative - Babar teaches actual yoga positions!).
The Adventures Of Babar: This was a live action TV show that featured
people dressed up as the characters, with paper mache elephant, rhino, human, and so forth, heads. It was aired
in the 70's, as far as I know. I've only seen a few stills and clips from this show, so I have no idea what it's
about in any detail. It appears that Babar isn't king, as he never wears a crown in any of the clips or stills
that I've seen, and he seems to live with The Old Lady. It was released on VHS in 1985 and you can still find it
on ebay, sometimes.
The Babar specials by Mendelson-Melendez studios : This includes "The
Story of Babar the Little Elephant" (which is a 30 min. animated musical version of the origin story, released
in 1968), and "Babar Comes to America" (which is a 30 min. sequel to the previous special and was released
in 1971). BCtA has Babar, Celeste and Arthur going to America (they've been invited to Hollywood to make a movie).
I saw these long ago, but no longer remember much of anything about them. It's worth noting that Mendelson-Melendez
studios also produced the Peanuts specials, and that Peter Ustinov did all the voices in both specials.
Babar and Father Christmas: This was a 25 min. animated TV special
released in April '86 by Atkison Film-Arts. In this one, Babar goes in search of Old Saint Nick, in the hopes of
getting him to deliver presents to the animal cities of the jungle. Unlike the book of the same name, it has Rataxes
added as a kind of a villain to the story, and I seem to remember him wanting a saxophone for Christmas, really
badly. He ended up being a rather sympathetic character, but had no where near the depth of the first Nelvana series
version. Also, like in many of the de Brunhoff books, Rataxes didn't wear a crown and wore a regular suit (it was
blue, in this case). I've had a chance to rewatch BaFC, recently, and it occurs to me that Rataxes may not even
be a king in this continuity (as he is referred as Rataxes the Rhino and there is no mention or indictation of
him being a king). In addition, unlike all the other Babar shows, Cornelius and The Old Lady never appear. Also,
BaFC had an entirely different voice cast from Babar TV series.
The first Nelvana animated Babar TV series: This is the series that this site is dedicated to and is simply titled "Babar."
It was released in the late 80's early 90's (Jan. '89 - June '91), by Nelvana. It differs majorly by having Babar
come back to the jungle as a boy and becoming king, instead of growing up first like in almost all the other incarnations.
Notable character additions and developements where also made in this series. Basil only appears in this particular
series, for instance. In addition, this series (along with the second series) may be the only series where Arthur
is Celeste's brother instead of her and Babar's cousin. The rhino characters (Rataxes, Lady Rataxes, and later
on Victor) were fleshed out and made into more complicated characters that were neither all good nor all bad (Laurent
himself did this in the books too, but not to the same extent). I, myself, particularly enjoy the character of
Rataxes in this incarnation, as he is given more depth and feeling, and he gets into all kinds of silly antics.
Pompadour (and Troubadour) are also great additions (mostly) unique to this version. Pompadour is a great foil
for many of the other characters and also adds great comedy to the series. Of all the versions, this is the one
where every character gets a chance to grow and shine, making it my favorite of the Babar universes.
Here's my show overview, if you're interested: (or you can skip
down to the next show)
Show overview: "Babar" (first Nelvana series/seasons
1 - 5)
In the jungle there are many animal kingdoms (Elephantland, Ostrichland, Rhinoland, etc.).
The kingdom of Celesteville (a.k.a Elephantland) is ruled by Babar, a kind, peace-loving king. The series follows
the adventures (and often misadventures) of Babar and his family and friends and, to some extent, his rival, Lord
Rataxes the king of Rhinoland.
In the early episodes, Babar recounts tales of his youth to his children. He tells how he
was orphaned by The Hunter and raised by The Old Lady in the city of Paris. He also tells stories of his early
days as king and of his various trials and misadventures. We soon learn that Rhinoland and Celesteville were not
on friendly terms. (Many stories are about a skirmish with Rataxes.)
The later episodes take place in the present. Here we discover that Rhinoland and Celesteville
have signed a peace treaty (although Babar and Rataxes are certainly not good buddies). Rataxes has also sired
a son who is best friends with the triplets Pom, Alexander and Flora. Many of these later episodes focus on the
children. Many also focus on further conflicts or misadventures involving Rataxes. Almost all of the recurring
characters get a chance to take center stage, here and there.
Babar - The Movie:
This movie was released in June '89 by Nelvana and is close in continuity to the above TV series. Babar is a boy
king in the flashbacks and it has the characters of Pompadour and Troubadour (who are exactly like their tv selves).
There is no Basil, Lady Rataxes or Victor, and Rataxes differs drastically. This continuity has the most unsympathetic
Rataxes of them all. Here he is vicious and bloodthirsty. Even though this movie has some cute musical numbers
(like the Committee Song by Pompadour and Cornelius), I rarely watch it because I hate the way Rataxes is portrayed
in this one, and it's just kind of disturbing (what with the burning of the elephant village and the enslaving
and whipping of its inhabitants).
Babar - King of the Elephants: This is
the newer movie by Nelvana, released in '99. Nelvana starts the series over and remains more faithful to the original
books, with Babar growing up before coming back to the jungle and such. Pompadour, Troubadour, Basil, Lady Rataxes,
Victor and even Isabelle do not appear in this one.
Here's my review of it, if you're interested: (or you can skip down to the next show)
Review: "Babar: King of the Elephants"
There is one word I can use to describe the new movie and that word is trippy.
It's cute, but strange. The movie opens with birds singing an African sounding song. The movie is a flashback but
unlike the TV series Babar doesn't narrate it, a bird does. It starts out normally enough with Babar being born
and frolicking in the jungle but it soon starts to turn strange when Babar grows tusks as a baby. That just seemed
a little strange to me (he was still cute though.)
Oh, and did I forget to mention that this is a musical. Can't have an animated
movie without it being a musical these days. It's the silly songs more than the lush visuals (which are quite true
to the books) that add to the trippiness of the movie. In fact, after Babar's mother is tragically killed by the
hunter and he meets The Old Lady, they have a rap duet! Yes, Babar and The Old Lady rap! It's not hip-hop rap,
it's more of a Twenties rap but still.... Absolutely hilarious!
Aside from the songs, the movie follows the book pretty faithfully almost to the
end. Arthur and Celeste come upon an adult Babar in the city and they all return to the jungle because of a war
with the rhinos. This is my favorite part of the movie. It turns out that the war is more like revenge through
property damage rather than being a real war. The rhinos crash about the jungle destroying the trees and frightening
the elephants but no one is killed or even harmed. Rataxes (who is kind of like the book Rataxes with a little
bit of the TV Rataxes thrown in) only wants revenge for having a tree tied to his tale by Arthur. The rhino song
is also my favorite song in the movie. All the rhinos sing about how they'd rather just lay about rather than go
to war, while Rataxes raves on about "pulling their trunks and tweaking their [the elephants] ears."
I found it ironic that the General Pamir of this continuity didn't want to go to war and only grudgingly obliged.
It's also worth noting that the wonderful Allen Stewart-Coates returned to do the voice of Rataxes (he was also
the voice of the TV series Rataxes.)
Anyway, Babar comes up with a plan to defeat the rhinos and, after the war is over,
Rataxes and Arthur both apologize! (I don't believe that any apologies were given in the book, from either side.
It was a nice addition to the story, I think.) Then, Babar marries Celeste and builds his city, assigning every
one jobs in a cute song number. I think they should have ended the movie there, as what follows feels a bit rushed
and tacked on. (Although, I kind of liked the picnic scene with the triplets.) After the job assigning number,
the triplets are born, and Babar gets a little freaked about being king. The Old Lady becomes sick and Cornelius
is caught in a fire. Then Babar has a nightmare, which reminds me of the LSD scene in "Hair." (It's also
a song number.) I honestly have to wonder what they were on when they came up with this one. I think they should
have made a whole sequel about Babar's adjustment to being king. There is a lot to explore there.
All in all, I like this one much better than "Babar - The Movie", although
I do miss Pompadour and all the other characters that didn't make the cut. I think the new movie is at least worth
The second Nelvana animated Babar TV series: This is an official continuation of the first series by Nelvana, and is listed as season
6 on the official sites. It began production in 2000 and appeared in 2002 (in Canada, Japan, and the UK). It doesn't
quite seem to fit in completely with the tone of the first series, however. This second series features
many fantastical lands that are beyond the previously established lands of humans and animals (like a land of toys,
for example). This makes the second series not jibe so well with the first, in my opinion. (Not that the first
series didn't have some completely made up creatures and a magical plot line or two, but mostly it was more of
a 'slice of life' type of series.) A 13 episode story arc of magical globe trotting adventure seems out of character
for the show as a whole, and the lands of toys, witches, and gigantic mythical creatures seem more fitting for
the universe of the de Brunhoff books. Not that there's anything wrong with that. It seems very cute, but more
like an alternate contunuity based off of the first Nelvana series, rather than a true continuation, in my opinion,
so far. So I'm going to continue counting it as a second series, of sorts.
Mini show overview: "Babar" (second Nelvana series/season
In this second series Babar and family (Celeste, Flora, Pom and Alexander) and Zephir travel to different lands
learning or teaching life lessons along the way. The episodes are mostly titled "Land of..." this or
"Land of..." that. To the best of my knowlege, Troubadour, and the rhino characters, are not in it (I
still need to see complete episodes - I've only seen clips and stills and the episode summaries). Pompadour, however,
is in the first episode, at least. I've seen a short clip of him conducting the orchestra in that episode. I don't
know whether he has a speaking role, or not, though.
The New Babar: This series was set to come out May 2007 in the Benelux
territories (Belgium, Netherlands, and Luxembourg), Canada, and France, but production has been cancelled. It was
produced by Nelvana, TeamTo, and LuxAnimation. According to LuxAnimation's technical
file for the series (link no longer works), "the adventures return with a new computer-animated series
telling the often daring, and always humourous, tales of life in Babar’s kingdom – through the eyes of his eight-year
old grandson!" Wow, Babar's children would have been all grown up then. And a 3D computer animated Babar -
that would have been far out! Too bad it got cancelled.
Here's a quote from one of the writers, (who was script coordinator on the original series, by the way) on why
the show may have been cancelled:
"...this CGI series was in development for one year and went into full scale production (for 8 months)
then was suddenly halted mid-production and shut down - and that was the end of "The New Babar". I was
a writer on the show, and to this day, it's still a mystery to me. I'm not sure why. I think there was a creative
difference of opinion about whether the show should be more preschool (Canada's broadcaster) or more mystery/adventure,
like the original series (France's broadcaster). Needless to say, the production is R.I.P..."