Words by Vicki Baikie Art by Georgia Townley
I can guarantee that the words “Soupe Opera,” will create a nostalgic reaction amongst any Australian ‘90s kid that can only be explained by pure joy. What will transpire after those magical words are spoken is some form of deep monkey sounds mixed with high pitched opera singing. If you are unfamiliar with Soupe Opera, you are one unlucky soul. You have been unfortunate enough to miss out on one of the biggest and most bewildering Millennial cult hits this world has ever seen. The majority of that generation are a part of something strangely spectacular, having experienced those stop motion fruit as children. Some surround the works of the Wiggles, Jeopardy in our later years or the original Bananas in Pyjamas and not the soulless rendition kids have to endure these days. Soupe Opera is not just a craze or a childhood hit, but is actually a beautiful imagining of what can only be explained as art.
To jog your memory, Soupe Opera is a two-minute-long stop motion TV program, where fruit and vegetables were cut and shaped into various different animals or objects to tell a story. Or as the ABC describes it, “Animated fruit and vegetables emerge from a basket. They cut themselves up and reshape themselves into a live animal.” If this scene still sounds foreign to you, imagine an eggplant with a mandarin peel transform into head and feet, while white carrot sticks become tusks to create a walrus. The walrus then kicks sugar cubes into a nearby walrus sized coffee cup. Just why hasn’t the show received a Gold Logie? I. Don’t. Know.
Look, explaining the show to you is useless and if you don’t know about this condensed genius that graced your screens in the ‘90s, then this article may not be for you – try becoming a bit more culturally aware, okay? Luckily some beautiful souls have uploaded some original episodes to YouTube, so go on, treat yo’self. Let’s delve into the third greatest show to propel your childhood; only second to Round the Twist and Blue Water High.
French writer-director duo, Christophe Barrier and Frédéric Clémençon, from production company Marlou Films created Soupe Opera in 1991. So, Soupe Opera is made through taking frame-by-frame photographs moulded together to create a flowing masterpiece. Other programmes made by the company include Mise En Plis AKA Folded in Two and Miam! AKA Yum Yum. Both exhibit the main charms of Soupe Opera; Folded in Two is the same, but instead of fruit, the characters are made with origami and Yum Yum! is made using recipe ingredients and kitchen utensils.
Soup Opera travelled the oceans and somehow ended up down under on ABC1, only ever airing on the in-between show slots; Soup Opera’s appearance was often just a random interjection and not shown in the old paper TV guide, catching the audience by surprise and adding to the enjoyment of the show. The program hooked an entire generation of impressionable millennials, evidenced by the many remixes created by those kids who experienced the purity and authenticity of the dancing edible animals.
If your Soupe Opera obsession has you longing to experience the strange audio-visual ensemble; you can scout around for a video copy which pop for roughly 31 Euros, browse the YouTube uploads or enjoy the single episode available on ABC TV.