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Babar: The Movie is a 1989 Canadian-French traditional animated film based on the characters of Jean and Laurent de Brunhoff's eponymous children's books and a follow-up to the first season of the Babar TV series.

It was made by Canada's Nelvana Limited & France's Ellipse Programmé and distributed by New Line Cinema. It was also the last animated feature production by Nelvana until 1997's Pippi Longstocking and another Babar film in 1999 Babar: King of the Elephants.


Spoiler warning!
This article contains plot details about an upcoming episode.

The film opens up on the day of the Elephantland Victory Parade and everyone is having such a good time!

That night after the Parade, Babar tells his four children the story of his first days as King of the elephants.

On his first day in court 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.

Then, Babar's friend, Celeste interrupts to tell Babar that her home has been attacked by Rataxes, the rhinoceros lord, and his horde. The chancellors scoff and rebuff her, but Babar goes to comfort her and tells her he knows how much a mother means to an elephant, even him. He then 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 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. They both travel to Rhinoland and enjoy each others company. Along the way, they meet a monkey named Zephir, who gives them the location of the rhinos' base after being saved from a Croc. 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. He then has an idea to stop the rhinos and all of the people in the kingdom help.

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 in the dark until their father tells them to get back to bed.

Voice Cast

Character English French Quebec
Babar Gordon Pinsent (king)
Gavin Magrath (boy)
Christian Alers Vincent Davy
Celeste Elizabeth Hanna (queen)
Sarah Polley (young)
Marie Vincent Dominique Leduc
Isabelle Lisa Yamanaka Aurélia Bruno Aurélie Mayer
Flora Marsha Moreau Brigitte Lecordier Alice Raynard
Pom Bobby Becken Aurélia Bruno Loïc Fauchoux-Fanning
Alexander Amos Crawley Brigitte Lecordier Mikaël Fauchoux-Fanning
Pompadour Stephen Ouimette Bernard Alane Jacques Lavallée
Cornelius Chris Wiggins Jean-Pierre Darras Claude Préfontaine
The Old Lady Elizabeth Hanna Nelly Benedetti Monique Fournier
Zephir John Stocker Jacques Balutin Sébastien Dhavernas
Rataxes Charles Kerr Régis Ivanov Yves Corbeil
Guard Rhinos Unknown
Arthur Stuart Stone Stanley Claisse Inti Chauveau
Old Tusk Carl Banas Henri Labussière Michel Max-Mailhot
Croc Ray Landry Christian Pelissier Ronald France
Celeste's Mother Angela Fusco Véronique Alycia Hélène Mondoux
Bird Barbara Mantini Unknown Unknown

Additional Voices

  • Chris Andrande
  • Chris Britton
  • Scott Brunt
  • Jason Burke
  • Katie Coristine
  • Frank Perry
  • Chris Robson
  • Norm Spencer
  • Lea-Helen Weir


The film features five main songs, performed by Molly Johnson, Judy Tate, The Nylons, and by cast members Stephen Ouimette, Chris Wiggins, and John Stocker, a soundtrack of the songs was not released:

  • Elephantland Parade
  • Committee Song
  • The Best We Both Can Be
  • Monkey Business
  • Rataxes Song

Box Office

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. However, it opened at only 510 North American venues and grossed US$1,305,187.

The Chicago Tribune deemed Babar: The Movie a box-office flop, although it did regain its losses through the home video release.

Critical Reception

The film was given mixed reviews from critics.

  • Rita Kempley from the Washington Post said that it was "tired material, a toddlers' introduction to sexism and elitism."
  • Tracy Moore from Common Sense Media called it "an animated elephant adventure with some peril."
  • James Plath from Movie Metropolis said, "Babar: The Movie feels like a film in search of an audience."

While many fans of the show enjoyed the movie, several parents said that the film actually scared their children.


  • The film was released between Season 1 and 2 of the show, in fact the film was released just 4 days after the season 1 finale.
  • This marks Isabelle's first appearance before she appeared in the show itself.
  • Sarah Polley (Young Celeste in this movie) and Bobby Becken (Pom in this movie) portrayed two schoolmates-later-turned-cousins from the TV series titled Ramona (as its title character, Ramona Quimby, and Howie Kemp, respectively).
  • As is true with at least some of the episodes of the TV show, Stuart Stone (Young Arthur), Amos Crawley (Alexander), and Lisa Yamanaka (Isabelle) voiced three of the children from The Magic School Bus, those being Ralphie Tennelli, Arnold Perlstein (just the first season; later, he would take minor roles), and Wanda (and William) Li.
  • Like with the TV series and the other movie, Elizabeth Hanna (the old lady altogether, and Queen Celeste in this movie) and Amos Crawley (Alexander in this movie, and Adult Arthur in the next movie) voiced Hen and Owl in Little Bear.
  • Of all those from the TV series, only the following reprise their roles: Elizabeth Hanna as the old lady; Gordon Pinset as Adult Babar; Gavin Magrath as Young Babar; Stephen Ouimette as Pompadour; the late Chris Wiggins as Cornelius; Bobby Becken as Pom; Amos Crawley as Alexander; and Stuart Stone as (Young) Arthur.
  • Adult Arthur does not speak in this movie.
  • Flora is the only one of Babar's children who wasn't voiced by her original voice actress.


  • Despite the incredible storyline for the film, there are several points in the movie that don't match the show's storyline:
    • The children all sleep in the same room, yet in the show the children have their own rooms.
    • Rataxes' intentions are to wage war on the elephants, but in the episode Rhino War, he has shown to have no interest in going to war.
    • There is a gate in front of the city in the movie. In the series, however, it is never seen.
    • Rataxes is voiced by a completely different actor in the movie and has a different design.
    • Celeste lives in a village near the city, yet in the show, it is clear that when the city was built, she remains there.
    • Celeste has a completely different outfit as a child and an adult.
    • Pompadour's outfit is blue and pink in the movie, in the show, it is orange and yellow.
    • Zephir is voiced by the same actor who voices Basil.
    • The detail in the film's animation is very different from the show, there is more shadow.
    • Basil and Lady Rataxes aren't seen or mentioned.
    • Celeste is voiced by a different actress as an adult and another one as child from the series.
    • Babar and Celeste meet Zephir living out in the forest but in the episode Babar's Choice Zephir already lives in Celesteville.
    • Some of the elephants from Celeste's village have no clothes and walk on all fours, in the show all the elephants wear clothes and walk on two feet after the city was built.
    • Despite being called Celesteville in the show, here it is just called Elephantland.
    • Celeste has no tusks as an adult.
    • Isabelle is shown to be 4 - 5 years old, but when we first see her in the show, she is just a toddler, and she doesn't appear until the next season.



File:Babar The Movie Trailer

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