Babar: The Movie

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Babar: The Movie
Babar The Movie.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed byAlan Bunce
Produced byMichael Hirsh
Patrick Loubert
Clive A. Smith
Screenplay byPeter Sauder
J.D. Smith
John de Klein
Raymond Jafelice
Alan Bunce
Story byPeter Sauder
Michael Hirsh
Patrick Loubert
Based onBabar characters
by Jean and Laurent de Brunhoff
StarringGordon Pinsent
Elizabeth Hanna
Music byMilan Kymlicka
Edited byEvan Landis
Distributed by
Release date
  • 28 July 1989 (1989-07-28)
Running time
77 minutes
Box office$1.3 million[1]

Babar: The Movie is a 1989 Canadian-French traditionally animated adventure film based on the characters of Jean de Brunhoff's eponymous children's books. It serves as the season finale to the first season of the TV series, as the second season started airing shortly after.

The film is produced by Canada's Nelvana Limited and France's Ellipse Programmé, and distributed by Astral Films in Canada and New Line Cinema in the United States.


On the night of Elephantland's Victory Parade, Babar tells his 4 children the story of his first days as King of the elephants.

On his first day as king, he is asked to choose a name for Elephantland's Annual Parade. Babar promptly selects one, but is informed by the bureaucratic-minded lords that the matter must be thoroughly examined by committee. Babar's cousin, Celeste, then interrupts to tell Babar that her home has been attacked by Rataxes, the rhinoceros lord, and his horde. The chancellors scoff and rubuff her, but Babar orders an elephant army to be called up immediately to defeat the rhinos, if partly because he wants to impress Celeste.

But, due to the heel-dragging of his ultra-conservative ministers, Babar learns that the muster will take at least three days. Not willing to wait any longer, Babar tells his cousin Arthur, Celeste's brother, to take care of his job as King while he ventures off on his own to help their mother, amid dangerous jungle. He finds Celeste's village aflame; the rhinos are taking the adult elephants as slaves so that they can work on building a rhino city. Babar tries to intervene, but is knocked senseless for his trouble.

When he comes to, Babar rescues Celeste out of the town well, and they set off to rescue her mother, and the other pachyderms, from Rataxes' wrath. Along the way, they meet a monkey named Zephir, who gives them the location of the rhinos' base. The two come face to face with Rataxes himself, who plans to invade Babar's kingdom by twilight, and are put in jail, but they both escape along with Zephir, and race back to Elephantland to save it.

Heading into the rhinos' tents, they disguise themselves as one of the warriors, asking for "special detail" of their plans for attack, but to no avail. They get away from Rataxes quickly, launching from a catapult and landing in a fountain, much to the surprise of Babar's advisors.

The evil rhino proclaims Elephantland will be destroyed in an hour, absent unconditional surrender. To buy time, Babar orders the two ministers to distract Rataxes with their "committee" procedure. The elephant army takes some action into their hands, and a giant elephant float, built by Babar and company, scares off Rataxes and his soldiers.

At sunrise, Babar's friends congratulate him on saving the day and his town, but are surprised to learn that their very first Victory Parade will be held during the afternoon. It has gone by that name ever since, the older Babar recalls, because the committee could not find any other name for it.

As Babar finishes his tale, he finds that his children have all gone to sleep. Right after he closes the door, they re-enact scenes from the story, until their father tells them to get back to bed and the credits roll.



In May 1989, the Toronto-based animation studio Nelvana announced that Babar: The Movie would debut in over 800 U.S. theatres by July 28 of that year.[2] The film, however, opened at only 510 North American venues and grossed US$1,305,187;[3] the Chicago Tribune deemed it a box-office flop, although the film did regain its losses through the home video release.[4] It was the last animated feature production by Nelvana until 1997's Pippi Longstocking, and another Babar film in 1999, Babar: King of the Elephants.

A book adaptation of the movie, written by Cathy East Dubowski and illustrated by Renzo Barto, was published by Random House in November 1989.


The film features five main songs, performed by the likes of Molly Johnson, Judy Tate, The Nylons, and by cast members Stephen Ouimette, Chris Wiggins, and John Stocker.[5]

The songs are (in order of appearance):

  • "Elephantland March" - written by Maribeth Solomon; performed by The Nylons, Judy Tate, Debbie Fleming (as Debbie Flemming), John Rutledge, and Neil Donell
  • "The Committee Song" - written by Philip Balsam (creditied as Phil Balsam); performed by Stephen Ouimette, Chris Wiggins, and The Nylons
  • "The Best We Both Can Be" - written by Maribeth Solomon; performed by Molly Johnson
  • "Monkey Business" - written by Maribeth Solomon; performed by John Stocker, Judy Tate, Debbie Fleming (as Debbie Flemming), John Rutledge, Neil Donell, and The Nylons
  • "Rataxes’ Song" - written by Kevan Staples, Marvin Dolgay and Carole Pope; performed by Charles Kerr


The film was given mixed reviews from critics.[6][7]


  1. ^ Babar: The Movie
  2. ^ Smith, Stacy Jenel (14 May 1989). "The Marketing: A Summer Crusade for Bat Dollars". Los Angeles Times. Tribune Company. p. 70. Retrieved 3 September 2010.
  3. ^ "Box office information for Babar: The Movie". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 3 September 2010.
  4. ^ Thompson, Ann (1 September 1989). "Summer report card: 'Batman' team makes the grade Lowell". Chicago Tribune. Tribune Company. p. B (FRIDAY). Retrieved 3 September 2010. New Line's attempt to grab the tail of the animation craze, 'Babar: The Movie,' failed dismally.
  5. ^
  6. ^ Holden, Stephen (25 August 1989). "Reviews/Film; A King, a Very Big King, Battles the Rhino Menace". The New York Times. The New York Times Company. Retrieved 26 August 2010.
  7. ^ Benson, Sheila (28 July 1989). "'Babar': Warm, Delightful Family Adventure". The Los Angeles Times. Tribune Company. Retrieved 24 August 2010.

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