First appearing in Histoire de Babar, Jean de Brunhoff’s 1931 storybook classic based on a tale that his wife Cecile had invented for their children, Babar the Elephant has, for 80 years, captivated millions around the globe. The story of the little elephant that leaves the jungle, visits a big city and returns to bring the benefits of civilization to his fellow elephants has been captured in a multitude of best-selling books (tens of million sold worldwide, and more than 1000 titles in print), motion pictures and animated series, including “Classic Babar,” which currently airs on Qubo. Originally seen on HBO, these wonderfully animated stories – 13 episodes in all, perfect for the whole family and never before available together as a complete season – follow Babar, his family and friends undertaking many challenges and adventures, all while teaching the most valuable lesson of all: despite life’s challenges, great things are possible if one never gets discouraged. As Babar says, “Long live happiness!”
This is a wonderful animated series with good moral themes (such as always tell the truth) which are taught with great animation. The voice work truly brings the characters to life as well. This series is based on a 1931 storybook.
There are 13 episodes on the two discs in this set. In episode one, “Babar’s First Step”, Babar is older and speaks with his two children, Alexander and Flora. The king tells his daughter, “We all have responsibilities” and then we have a flashback of young Babar, living a quiet life in the jungle with his mother until some humans enter the jungle and force the family to move on as Babar’s life is forever changed. We see Babar’s mother teach him how to use his trunk and we see Babar make some silly mistakes such as walking into a tree stump. It should be noted that in this episode that Babar’s mother is shot by a hunter and although not graphic, there is sadness from Babar and children watching the episode should have their parents watch with them to explain death and to provide comfort if needed. Babar says, “And so I was alone”. Although he does have others including friends who step in to be with him.
In “City Ways” Babar, alone and confused in the big city, is befriended by the Old Lady who teaches him how to fit into the human world; in episode three, “Babar Returns”, Babar returns to the jungle and wants to share his new knowledge with his friends but, despite his friends still being pursued by hunters, they don’t care to know his new ideas; in episode four, “The City of Elephants” Babar plans to build a city for elephants but soon learns he must contend with Lord Rotaxes, the Rhino King, who is building his own city; in “Babar’s Triumph” Babar faces his ultimate challenge when the Hunter returns. In order to be rid of this deadly enemy, Babar must join forces and unite with Lord Rotaxes. In “Babar’s Choice” Babar is in danger of spoiling his relationship with Celeste when his advisers impose it on him to take a dignitary’s daughter to a dance instead of her.
In episode seven, “Race to the Moon”, Babar wants to rebuild an old theater in honor of his mother. At the exact same time his subjects become excited about building a rocket ship in an attempt to beat Lord Rotaxes in a trip to the moon. In episode eight, “No Place Like Home”, Babar allows a young circus boy to live in the palace, but eventually the boy wants to return to his home, the circus, but now it may be too late as Lord Rotaxes has captured the circus. In “An Elephant’s Best Friend” Babar excitedly finds a pet warthog in the jungle, but reluctantly returns it. In episode ten, “The Show Must Go On”, when Flora directs a play it takes Babar back to his youth, when he was a director of a play and his star was a pain to the rest of the cast. She eventually insults almost everyone, including Celeste, and Babar decides enough is enough. In episode eleven, “To Duet or Not to Duet” Babar reflects about a time he was scheduled to play piano with a great musician but kept putting off his practices. He finally had to “face the music”. In episode twelve, “The Missing Crown Affair”, Babar remembers when he was young and his crown came up missing just before his coronation. We learn there is more to the missing crown than meets the eye.
Finally, in the last episode of the set, episode thirteen, “The Phantom”, Babar discovers that a mysterious “phantom” who has lived in an old theater is really a lonely old man. With the building scheduled to be torn down, the phantom finds someone near the end of the story, someone who inspired his music years before and he is encouraged to give up his life of solitude.
This is a terrific set! We are happy to award it our Dove “Family-Approved” Seal for all ages. We wish to note that it might possibly be too intense for very young children as the first episode deals with the death of an elephant’s mother but it doesn’t include any graphic scenes. However, the death is clearly noted. This series features wonderful animation, likable characters, moral stories, and terrific animation. Your children will enjoy hours of entertainment as they roost for a while with Babar!