Babar: The Movie

Babar: The Movie

Theatrical release poster
Directed by Alan Bunce
Produced by Michael Hirsh
Patrick Loubert
Clive A. Smith
Written by Original Babar characters:
Jean and Laurent de Brunhoff
Peter Sauder
Michael Hirsh
Patrick Loubert
Peter Sauder
J.D. Smith
John de Klein
Raymond Jafelice
Alan Bunce
Music by Milan Kymlicka
Edited by Evan Landis
Distributed by United States:
New Line Cinema
Astral Films
Release dates
28 July 1989
Running time
76 minutes
Country Canada
Language English
Box office $1,305,187[1]

Babar: The Movie is a 1989 Canadian-French traditional animated film made by Canada's Nelvana Limited and France's Ellipse Programmé, and distributed by New Line Cinema. It is based on the characters of Jean de Brunhoff's eponymous children's books, and was a follow-up to the first season of the TV series.


On the night of Elephantland's Victory Parade, Babar tells his four 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' 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.



In May 1989, the Toronto-based animation studio Nelvana announced that Babar: The Movie would debut in over 800 U.S. theatres by 28 July 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 though 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):


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. (registration required (help)).
  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.
  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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