Tuesday, 28 October 2008

Les Schtroumpfs II (pure Nostalgia)

Ok so here’s the proper post on the Smurfs/Schtroumpfs/Estrumpfes (depending on your preferred language)… It's probably Nostalgia Central.

I have no idea exactly when or how my love for those little blue creatures started. I am not sure if it was the TV series or the plastic toys, or both at the same time. It was sometime in the early Eighties. I suspect that the books came later – and I had six of them, still have them actually, somewhere in a box. Whatever was the starting point, it soon grew to a collection of over 30 plastic toys – very much played with; two mushroom houses, but had to give the small one to little brother when I got the bigger one; a sticker collection and the books. I remember with affection my first three plastic Schtroumpfs (the black schtroumpf, the walking schtroumpf and one schtroumpfette) and how I lost the Schtroumpfette and aged about 4 made such a fuss that my mother went to every single shop in Lisbon till she found a new one. I also remember how I got two tennis players in a birthday cake.

This summer after I booked a trip to Chocolateland I found out that the Centre Nationale de la Bande Dessinee was having an exhibition on the Schtroumpfs to celebrate their 50th anniversary. I went with a friend and we both loved them all over again, and as a result I now own 11 out of the first 12 books, this time around in French.

So how do they stand the test of time? Mostly well, in particular “Le Schtroumpfissime” and “Schtroumpf Vert et Vert Schtroumpf”. I had never read the second, a brilliant satire of Belgium and the rivalry between Walloons and Flemish which ends in civil war, but it was the first that shocked me the most. Here it was a story that included the rise to power of a dictator complete with random arrests, police brutality, censorship and organised resistance. Not kiddie stuff, is it? True, there are happy endings for both stories, and they are far more adult orientated that all the others, but still quite powerful. I loved them.

It was nice to see the universe Peyo (the author) created developing from book to book – first there are 99 schtroumpfs, then 100 (there is a story for that) and then 101 (the schtroumpfette). But best of all was to (re)discover the Schtroumpf Grognon, who keeps saying “Moi, je n’aime pas” whatever all the others do. My favourite line of his? “Moi, je n’aime pas les yuppi”.

Yes, I think I’m in love all over again.

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