intellectually handicapped

Bamse

BamseVärldens starkaste björn ("The world's strongest bear") is a Swedish cartoon created by Rune Andréasson. The highly popular children's cartoon first emerged as a series of television short films as well as a weekly half page Sunday strip in 1966, before being published periodically in its own comic magazine since 1973.

Andréasson did all the artwork himself until 1975 and wrote all comics until 1990. Francisco Tora did all the illustrations from 1976 until he was joined by Bo Michanek in 1983. In the early 1990s several new illustrators were hired, including Claes Reimerthi and Tony Cronstam. Andréasson continued to do the magazine cover illustrations until 1992.

The series somewhat changed direction when Bamse had children, specifically triplets, in 1982. In 1986 he had a fourth child, Lille Skutt having one at the same time. Family life is now in focus, and here also the basic values shine through, like that of gender equality. In 1989 Skalman noticed that Bamse's fourth child Brumma was intellectually handicapped, which again brought up the subject of equality. The children did develop in real-time within the magazine, but seem to have been fixed in age since around 1990. They are now around seven years old, in a narratively advantageous eternal state as first-graders.

Both the early Sunday strips and the early magazines have today been reprinted as glossy hard-bound volumes.

In 1998 the themepark Bamses Värld ("Bamse's World") started as an attraction at the Kolmården Zoo.

Bamse is sometimes confused with Rasmus Klump, another bear who plays the starring role in a cartoon.

Main characters (family and friends)

Bamse, the main character, is a brown bear who becomes the world's strongest bear by eating a type of honey called dunderhonung (lit. "thunder honey"), specially prepared for him by his grandmother. (Almost) anyone else who eats it, apart from Bamse's pet bee and his daughter, ends up with three days of stomachache. Bamse is also the kindest bear in the world, and is often seen helping those in need.

The name Bamse comes from a Scandinavian word for "bear" or "teddy bear". "Bamse" can also translate to "giant", though that would be somewhat of a misnomer, as Bamse is rather diminutive in size compared to many of the other characters.

Brummelisa is the daughter of a forester who could always rely on Bamse helping out; soon they fell in love. In 1981 they all went on a boat trip to the north of Scandinavia (financed by individual odd jobs), climaxing in a view of the Midnight sun (an anti-climax to grandma's cat and mouse who expected it to look different); it was here that Brummelisa popped the question and after a long hard think the answer was yes. But the surprises didn't end there though as the newlyweds became parents to triplets: Brum, Teddy, Nalle-Maja. Brum is artistically gifted, but somewhat shy. Teddy spends a lot of time by himself, and loves reading and learning. Nalle-Maja is the most extrovert kid, and loves sports and activities. Once their personalities began to shine through Teddy gravitated towards Skalman who noticed what the others failed to; Teddy's clumsiness stems from his eyesight and only needed a pair of glasses. Nalle-Maja has inherited more than just her father's looks; when Bamse was in trouble she ignored Lille Skutt's warning not to touch the honey. Surprisingly she drew strength from it as well as getting stomache-ache. Late 1985 the triplets were informed on the arrival of another sibling; Brumma, intellectually handicapped but very kind.

Lille Skutt ("Little Hop") is Bamse's and Skalman's best friend. He is a very fast but notoriously frightened white rabbit with a red bow tie. Lille Skutt is the village postman, albeit on a part-time basis.

Like Bamse, Skutt ended up marrying his girlfriend; Nina Kanin, best friend with Brummelisa. Nina and Skutt became parents to a son Mini-Hopp, a hyperactive kid with an apparent lack of fear.

Skalman ("Shell-man") is an ingenious tortoise who invents all sorts of things, including spacecraft and time machines. He stores just about anything in his carapace except for locomotives, spaceships or atlantic steamboats. Skalman seems to be a polyphasic sleeper, and according to himself, his best invention is the food-and-sleep clock, whose calls he follows slavishly, even at times when sleep seems highly inappropriate. To this date, he has only ignored the alarm call a few times, including the discovery of a dinosaur's egg, the birth of Bamse's children, and a state of deep depression due to the false belief that his carelessness had caused the death of Bamse's children. None of the other characters come close to Skalman's intellectual level and he is sometimes seen playing chess with himself (he has met and beaten the chess world champion).

Antagonists

Vargen ("The Wolf") is a black wolf who was raised on the wrong side of the tracks; when his stepfathers ended up in prison he knew that it was time to make a fresh start but his past turned against him as nobody wanted to give him the chance to better his life. Bamse did, and let him look after one of the horses. Vargen occasionally slips back in his old ways, but as far as the other wolves are concerned he blew it by joining Bamse's club.

Krösus Sork ("Croesus Vole") is a Scrooge McDuck-type capitalist; born as a banker's son he was forced to play second fiddle to his brother Slösus who couldn't put a foot wrong. Krösus ended up seeking revenge by framing Slösus for forgery; the latter was devastated to discover the truth after his release and they had a falling out. Meanwhile Krösus built up his fortune with blood money and let his 'cousins' do the dirty jobs.

Kapten Buster ("Captain Buster") and his three clumsy sideman pirates. Largely incompetent and unsuccessful.

Moral values and criticism

The magazine has educational goals, and indeed taught a generation of Swedes. On special "school" pages, the characters educate the reader about animals, foreign cultures, the Universe, and other subjects. They often deal with superstition, and Skalman's sceptical views ("I only believe what I know") wins over those of his more naive friends. On the other hand, beings like trolls, tomtar and dragons exist on a very real plane in most of the stories.

Bamse and his friends are very clear about their values. They are strongly opposed to racism, bullying and violence. Bamse is not only the strongest bear in the world, but also the kindest, often repeating his slogan "Nobody is the better for being beaten".

The original villain, a black wolf simply called Vargen ("The Wolf"), became a friend of Bamse after consistently being treated kindly. The only villain that is depicted as unredeemable is Krösus Sork ("Croesus Vole"), a crude capitalist who will do practically anything for money. This, together with the overall focus on sharing and some of the "school" pages making pro-Chinese and Vietnam statements, has led some people to accuse the series of promoting communism.

Films and other media

A number of animated black and white short films were produced for television in 1966. In the early 1970s seven more animated shorts were made in colour. The later colour films have aired frequently on TV in Sweden and have been released on VHS and DVD. The black and white films had been out of print for a long time, but were released on DVD by late 2006. The color movies were low budget productions with actor Olof Thunberg narrating and voicing all characters, but they are considered to be classics and the musical theme is easily recognized by most Swedes.

In 1993, a Game Boy game (in Swedish) was published loosely based on the Bamse characters. The game received generally poor reviews, and was mostly considered a blatant Wonder Boy ripoff. The game has not been officially released outside Sweden.

In October 2006, forty years after Bamse was created, Ola Andréasson, the son of creator Rune Andréasson, announced that an animated feature film will be made, featuring better animation, a full voice cast and having a budget of SEK 25 million. The movie will probably be released in 2009.

Translations

In the 1960s there were a few translations of the series "Bamses skola", where the characters were given English names:

  • Bamse - Bamsy
  • Skalman - Professor Shellback
  • Lille Skutt - Little Frisky
  • Vargen - Willie
  • Katten Janson (literally Janson the Cat) - Sooty

In this translation the dunderhonung was given the name magic honey. However, in the 1980s, Andréasson referred to it in English as thunder honey, which is the literal translation also used in the Netherlands and Belgium (donderhoning).

References

External links

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