I was watching Coming to America earlier this week and there was a scene, during the walk Prince Akeem took with King Jaffe, where a baby elephant approaches and Akeem says “hello Babar”. I’ve seen the film at least 50 times and that’s the first time I actually noticed the significance of that small scene. It got me really intrigued about the cartoon I hadn’t seen since my childhood. So I searched for it on Amazon Prime Video and to my surprise, the entire series was there. I’ve been watching it all day. That brings me to this week’s moment in the Flashback Friday series: the Babar TV series.
How I first came across this moment? I first came across the Babar series during the Summer of 1991, when I went to visit my aunts and uncles in Gary, Indiana. My cousin was watching it on HBO and it looked interesting so I joined him.
What it meant to me then? I was actually intrigued. The concept of an elephant as the king of the forest and is at odds with human hunters and a rhinoceros was must-see TV for a 6-year-old. I particularly liked the interactions between Babar’s kids. I especially liked Alexander’s playfulness…especially when it came to Flora. It reminded me of my relationship with my sister. As I grew older and re-watched the series, I started grasping more of the Babar story…about how his mother was killed by hunters and how the Old Lady took him in…about how he returned and built up Celesteville. There were a lot of good-natured lessons in the series that I better understood as a 9 and 10-year-old more so than I did when I was 6.
What it means to me now? Babar is one of those cartoons that will literally stop me in my tracks and have me watching intently. I’ve actually been watching the series all day. And having not seen it since the late 90s, I’m surprised I’m still as familiar with the characters. But I guess some things never really change. I’m really grateful that Amazon Prime has this series available. Hopefully, it’ll be around in the spring, when my firstborn makes his or her debut.