By: J Timothy Mitchell
The Smurfs were born in 1958 as the creation of a Belgian cartoonist called Peyo (real name Pierre Culliford), and are a group of diminutive characters with blue skin and funny hats .The Smurfs have been delighting children for over 50 years, featuring in different media, including audio (pop songs), films (e.g.” the Magic Flute”), books of all sorts, and toys (e.g. Schleich toys).
In some ways the Smurfs can be compared with other children’s characters like the Wombles and the Muppets. These also feature a range of different characters with different personalities, often mirroring those of us humans. There are differences though. The Wombles exemplify the typically British middle class way of life and associated values, living as they do in the respectable district of Wimbledon. The Muppets perhaps typify the New Yorker, and are somewhat more brash, and more direct in their inter-actions. These characters are larger than life, and some are obviously based on US celebrities, and appeal especially to American children.
The Smurfs seem to have a broader fan base, appealing to young children of many different countries across the world, of all ethnic groups and all classes. They are somewhat more mystical and indefinable, whilst at the same time being fun, and featuring characters that children can identify with.
Some of the best known Smurfs are the cat Azrael, Papa, Clumsy, Brainy, Baby, Hefty, Painter, Baker , Dreamy, Grouchy, and Smurfette. They live happily together in a little village of mushroom houses somewhere far away. Don’t ask where exactly, because it is a Smurf secret, but it is faraway.
The Smurfs have been popping up from time to time over the years in many different places, and, for their fiftieth anniversary there were 15 special “Celebrity Smurfs” auctioned off in Brussels Town Hall. The total benefit raised from this auction, was over 124,000 euros and this was donated to UNICEF. In addition, the Smurfs set off on a happy Smurfday Euro tour, taking in 15 different European cities. In each country a special celebrity Smurf was created. The top three special Smurfs were the Surprise Smurf, a unique black Smurf signed by Peyo’s family, the Schtroumpf Sympathix, and the United Smurf of Benetton.
And now, the Smurfs are here again and soon to be featured in a joint venture by Columbia Pictures and Sony Pictures, a live action/animated Smurfs film. The project is still in its early stages of development, but there are rumours that it might extend to a trilogy, or that it may even be made in 3D. There is no doubt though, that the Smurfs are back!
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