Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Fanholes Side Story: Smurfs Are Smurfy! part 1

You may find it surprising, but the Smurfs are not only foreign but have been around since the late 50s. Belgium gave us the Smurfs and Tintin...and waffles of course, so we owe Belgium. It's also interesting to note that both properties have a feature film coming out this year. Go figure.

As a child of the 80s, I feel that I grew up with several great cartoons. As an adult I have revisited many of them, though there are several I have not. One property I have not revisited, until now, is The Smurfs. As a kid I loved the Smurfs. I’d wake up early every Saturday and watch as Gargamel tried his best to capture and eat the Smurfs, or turn them into gold…sometimes he seemed to be conflicted. I can also remember eating lots and lots of Smurf Berry Crunch Cereal.

First, a little history. The Smurfs were created, as I mentioned, in Belgium, by Pierre Culliford. Better known as Peyo, he created the Smurfs for a comic strip in 1958. The Smurfs began as characters in a strip called Johan and Peewit. If those names sound familiar it is because they would later show up in the cartoon series and movie.

By now we all know of the live action film being released this week. This new film, however, is not the first Smurfs movie. A previous animated film, which we know in the US as The Smurfs and The Magic Flute, came first. Made in Belgium in 1976 it didn’t reach the US till 1983, and by then the animated series had been on the air for two years and was quite popular. Though, when this movie was brought over it was not dubbed with the same voice actors who were used in the animated series.

A tagline for this movie states it's the first and only Smurfs movie ever. But really, who would ever imagine that nearly thirty years later there would be another Smurfs movie? Nevermind a live action version. The Smurfs and The Magic Flute is not available on DVD in North America.

As for the 2011 film…I think the trailer speaks for itself. Most likely, it's not going to be very good. Oh, it may prove popular with kids, but for those of us who grew up with the cartoon series…we see the trailer and groan. The two recent Alvin and The Chimpmunks live action movies proved quite popular and successful at the box office, so perhaps we can place the blame with that film series. As for me, I will not be seeing this film in theaters. I may not even watch it once it's on DVD. It just looks that bad. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not one to proclaim my childhood will be ruined forever. I just feel this will be a bad, bad movie.

There are, however, other media we can focus on and enjoy. There is of course the animated series, as well as the comics for which several of the cartoon episodes were adapted from. I will be taking a look at these two sources as I take a smurf down memory lane.

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