It’s a slight departure from the world of Bella, Edward and Jacob, but Marty Bowen and Wyck Godfrey, the producers behind the million-dollar Twilight vampire-novel adaptations have turned their eyes to the world of a cartoon elephant.
If you managed to get through an average Western childhood without hearing about Babar, you must’ve had your eyes closed. Babar was everywhere, and has been in book form since the early 1930s. It’s definitely a children’s book, with the tale of an Elephant alone in a world of humans, and his acclimatisation to said world.
However, some critics argued it justified colonialism, the act of pushing your culture onto a populace who wanted nothing to do with it. At the end of the book (it’s been out for seventy years, spoiler tags are pointless here) the elephant world is turned into a westernised version of itself.
But with the last book out in 2004 and the last film only out in 1999, it seems logical that he’d return to the big screen. Of course, it’s going to be a CGI venture, but this should come as no surprise – even Disney have only made a single recent effort (The Princess and the Frog) to keep the world of 2D animation alive.
It’s certainly a good time to be someone who keeps strong ties to the literature and TV they absorbed as a child – everything from the Moomins to the Magic Roundabout has been or is being adapted by companies eagerly snapping up the rights. Quite what’ll come next is something to wonder about.
For now though, we’re blessed to see the wonderful tale of an elephant who finds himself in an environment unfamiliar to him. Cue comedy, lots of running around, and of course, critics arguing that this is some sort of metaphorical reference to the current isolation of certain cultural groups. But then again, what was Disney’s Pocohontas if not a criticism of the country the film was made in?
It’s a shame the creator is no longer with us to see the next generation of film embrace his creation – Jean de Brunhoff passed away in 1937, only six years after the first book was published. However, his son (now an impressive 85) is still around and writing Babar books. Like Tolkien and Stoker, the stories of great writers have been passed down through the generations (JRR Tolkien’s son Christopher helped finish The Silmarillion, and Bram Stoker’s great-grandnephew Dacre wrote a less well-received sequel Dracula: the Undead). Can’t wait – French cartoons, from Tintin to Persopolis, have always been fantastic. More news soon, we hope!