Back to my Childhood: Babar and Father Christmas

GeekMom TV and Movies

I’m a sucker for a Christmas movie. I can usually find a redeeming feature no matter how bad it is. So when I received a copy of my childhood favorite Babar and Father Christmas to review, I was both hopeful and hesitant. This movie lives in my mind as a snapshot of Christmas. A grainy VHS copy, an early morning showing before school, Babar was part of my Christmas repertoire. How would it fare after twenty years?

As it turns out, pretty good. The message isn’t dated as some of the early Babar episodes are. We are shown the joy of the children when they discover Father Christmas, the redemption of the scheming Rataxes, and the lengths to which a father, Babar, will go to in order to bring joy to his children. When I was young, it was a concern of mine that Father Christmas was overworked, I sent him a Christmas present and worried for his health. After re-watching Babar and Father Christmas, I wonder if that sentiment was not inspired by this short film. My two year old was just as enthralled by the movie as I was, he sat quietly for the whole thing, which rarely happens, and commented only on the snow. The next day, when out shopping, he knew who Father Christmas was when he spied him in a store. As a side note, I have to say I loved that he recognized the old man as Father Christmas and not Santa Claus, a subtle nod to my heritage and not choice of residence.

You don’t need to know anything about Babar to enjoy this tale, it introduces everyone’s characters quite nicely without overwhelming Babar fans with recapped detail. The book on which the movie was based, was written in 1940 and the film follows DeBrunhoff’s original illustrations. His depictions of the underground workshops, in fact, bear a striking similarity to those drawn by JRR Tolkien in the 1920s and 30s for his children. The animation is charming and I think even older children, used to Pixar and Dreamworks, will find it’s vintage look appealing. It is not fast paced, it’s humor is obvious not subtle, and it is a gentle tale. It makes for a nice quiet moment amongst the viewing choices I am generally offered by my son.

Thoroughly enjoyable after twenty years,  Babar and Father Christmas was released on DVD  on November 22 and will make a charming addition to your Christmas movie viewing traditions.

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