Meet the Smurfs
If you did your growing in the 80s, you are probably familiar with the strange little blue creatures that live in mushroom houses and go from adventure to adventure.
It may come as a shock to you, but the real name of that illustrious family is les Schtroumpfs (they are not French, however, but Belgian). Smurfs is an English adaptation of their Flemish name, de Smurfen.
The sympathique (French for likeable or charming) little creatures made their first public appearance on 23 October 1958. Not as main characters, though. Their mentor, the Belgian cartoonist Peyo (full name Pierre Culliford), introduced les Schtroumpfs to Earthlings via the Spirou magazine. In that first encounter, les Schtroumpfs played supporting roles to the main protagonists, Johan et Pirlouit. But, as it sometimes happens in life, the sidekicks became so popular that they got their own comic book.
The success of the little blue guys became planetary in the 80's due to the TV cartoons, produced by Hanna-Barbera Productions and aired on NBC from 1981 to 1989.
Their name changes depending on the country. They are the Smurfs, die SchlÃ¼mpfe, los Pitufos, i Puffi, de Smurfen, les Schtroumpfs... However, their characteristic silhouette is recognised by older audiences at a first glance in practically every corner of the world.
And now, thanks to the 3D move released in the USA at the end of July 2011, the little blue creatures are being re-introduced to a whole new generation of kids.
The film, simply called The Smurfs, is a hybrid of animation and live action, with the little blue creatures freely interacting with humans. The movie centres on five Smurfs (Clumsy, Papa Smurf, Smurfette, Grouchy, Brainy and Gutsy), who find themselves in New York City when they try to flee their arch enemy, the evil wizard Gargamel. A sequel of the movie is planned for 2013.
The film is not to everybody's taste. To fully enjoy it, you have to like cute stuff. It also helps if you happen to be a kid.
Still, the tried-and-tested formula of a layer of fun + a layer of magic + a lot of family entertainment produced a huge success at box offices worldwide. The film has been the number one in the international marketplace for eight consecutive weeks.
Naturally, the commercial success of the Smurfs comic books and motion pictures brought about the birth of an enormous merchandising empire in the form of the Smurf miniatures, models, games, toys, and, as the latest, applications for the iPhone, iPad and Android platforms.
Habitat: Smurfs live in an impossible-to-find little village, in mushroom-like houses.
Population: About 100, mostly males (there are only three girls).
General aspect: Smurfs are as similar to each other as eggs are. They are very short (about three apples high) and have blue skin.
Life expectancy: Smurf are renowned for their longevity. Papa Smurf is well over 500 years old and (naturally) considerably younger than Grandpa Smurf.
Language: Smurfs speak whatever language they are translated into (about every known language on the planet Earth). They use the word Smurf (or a local equivalent) a lot, to replace just about any noun or verb.
Fashion trends: They tend to wear a white hat and white trousers, with a hole that accommodates the tail.
Staple food: Smurfberries (a kind of berry) and sarsaparilla leaves. Plus cakes. And just about anything else (especially Greedy Smurf).