Feeling Blue

There comes a time in every adults life when they want to relive their youth, and this quite often occurs through the medium of cartoons. The memories of many 30-somethings would have been jogged recently by the release of The Smurfs on the big screen. Everyone knows the Smurfs, although not everyone knows that they first originated under the pen/paintbrush of a Belgian cartoonist in 1958. For those that followed the TV version, it first appears in the early 1980’s, and thus became a childhood favourite. It is ranked by IGN as number 97 in the list of the best all-time animated series, and is interestingly described as “kiddie cocaine to those of us who grew up in the ’80s”.

By releasing the film this year, you can see that the producers are trying to bridge the divide between those who had been kids in the 80’s along with their kids who would now be the primary target audience. However, it has not gone down so well – the renowned film critic website Rotten Tomatoes has rated the film at 21% ‘fresh’ (a positive review) from 94 reviews that they have analysed. Rotten Tomatoes says “The Smurfs assembles an undeniably talented cast of voice actors and live-action stars — then crushes them beneath a blue mound of lowest-common-denominator kiddie fare.” Thus it can be seen that the film did not resonate with reviewers, as it aimed solely at children. However, the interesting point to note is that over 40,000 amateur reviewers were much more positive, giving 55% positive reviews.

It would seem that Poland still maintains a good relationship with the Smurfs however. The film has had lots of advertising here in Poland, both on billboards and on television spots. For those wishing to get a ‘fix’ of nostaliga, the Smurfs can still be seen on Polish TV during the regular ‘childrens’ half hour from 19.00 to 19.30 during weekdays on TVP1. Another sign of Poland’s affection with the Smurfs was the involvement in the Global Smurf Day celebrated on June 25th. With celebrations in locations as varied as Colombia, South Korea, Panama and Spain, it made for a blue day in Warsaw.

However, despite the temporary nature of a one off celebration of Dzien Smerfy in Warsaw was interesting, a more surprising scene can be found in Olkusz about 40km north-west of Kraków. Here you can find a housing estate (osiedle) known locally as Osielde Smerfów. On the outskirts of Olkusz there is a group of houses and each has a blue roof, thus giving it it’s nickname. It’s not clear if they were chosen to be blue by design, or if the developer was simply a big fan of the Smurfs, but it makes for interesting viewing if you are in the vicinity of Olkusz.

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