10 September 2007
BSB Flashback: The Story of Babar
25 February 2007
Author/Illustrator: Jean de Brunhoff
This story starts out with a bang. Literally. Babar's mother is shot dead by a hunter. Luckily, Babar finds solace in the comforting arms of french aristocracy and drowns his sorrows in designer clothing. Having learned big-city ways, Babar returns to the jungle to introduce his fellow elephants to the benefits of civilization... particularly the wearing of funny hats. As a result, he is named king and has to exchange his funny hats for the burdens of the crown. The story ends with one lingering question: Can Babar handle the moral complexities of transforming a jungle-based economy without becoming a puppet of French colonial rule?
Story Idea: A grown-up Babar teams up with a disillusioned Bambi and other bitter children's literature characters to avenge the untimely deaths of their parents. They soon discover that "the hunter" that killed each of their parents is in fact the same person... looks like we have a serial killer on our hands, boys. Two homicide detectives, the uber-cautious Piglet and the borderline insane William Wonka, follow a twisted trail of clues to find the murderer (while trying not to kill eachother). Meanwhile, Babar and Bambi take to the streets to extract their own brand of vigilante justice. The Hunter has become The Hunted.
From the DVD Special Features-Alternate Ending: The elusive hunter turns out to be Vice President Dick Cheney. This was changed before the final version because focus groups thought it was too predictable.
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Oh wow! Would you guest-write an entry for Children's Books That Never Were?
What is it about offing the moms in children's literature?
Disney is famous for this. Just think of all the missing moms in Disney films. No, really, think about it. And if they aren't dead they're hysterical and need to be separated from their children.
Digressing further, At an early screening of Aladdin Michael Eisner was shown the first 20 minutes where Aladdin is a thief to help support his mother. Feeling that the story dragged he infamously said "Loose the mom. Mom's are zeros." and they promptly removed her and all references to her from the film. Which I thought was a telling aspect to Disney, and children's storytelling in general.
Hey i'd love to do an entry for Children's Books That Never Were! I'll shoot you an email about more details.
and wow, I'd never heard the "Moms are zeros" story before--thanks for sharing. if any else has any stories about the seedy underbelly of disney, i'd love to hear 'em!
David-- In most children's literature (except for in the distinctive family dramas), one has to get rid of the parents in one way or another. I prefer the scenario where the parents are supportive but out of the picture for the most part, but in many of the Western fairy tales with which we are familiar, it's often the mother who dies. Mothers often died in childbirth, replaced by stepmothers. It's just too bad that the stepmother is almost always wicked, and the father is almost always weak-willed.
Minh--Hurrah! Fresh blood! I look forward to hearing from you. My direct email is farida AT dowler DOT com.
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