SMURFS AND THE MAGIC FLUTE
(La Flute a Six Schtroumpfs)
There was a Belgian-made animated film The Adventures of the Smurfs (1965) but this has never been widely seen and does not appear to exist in English translation. Far more popular was this film (which peculiarly translates literally as The Flute to/with Six Smurfs), which was originally released to European countries in 1976 but not seen on English-speaking shores until at least 1980-1 and not released in the US until 1983. Peyo oversaw production and even contributed some of the songs. Of course, between the point that Smurfs and the Magic Flute was originally made and its release onto English-speaking shores, the Smurfs had become a worldwide phenomenon due to the The Smurfs (1981-90), the English-language animated tv series produced by Hanna-Barbera. Indeed, the Smurfs so permeated popular culture as a result of the Hanna-Barbera series that the term smurf became used to denote someone who is particularly childish or woolly-headed.
Following the success of the Hanna-Barbera series, this film was brought up, dubbed into English and released as a Smurfs film. In being unconnected to the Hanna-Barbera works, it is missing some of the aspects that were introduced there The Smurfs lack much in the way of individual identity, for instance, while the regular nemesis of the wizard Gargamel is not present. The familiar characters are also dubbed by different voice actors. Also, in following the original Johan and Peewit comic-strip as opposed to the Hanna-Barbera series, Johann and Peewit (renamed Pee Wee in English-language dubbing) are the principal characters and the Smurfs do not appear until after the half-hour point.
Smurfs and the Magic Flute is made with an infuriatingly insipid banality. The inane joviality of the Smurfs and their bleating voices, using the phrase Smurf to replace every second noun and verb, can make a reviewer wonder why they chose a job like this. The songs are excruciating. Even the animation is dull and flat. The film seems to think the greatest joke in the world is having the other Smurfs hit the brainy Smurf over the head every time he opens his mouth in a polysyllabic torrent so repeats it at every opportunity. When it comes down to it, the films greatest moral for its child audience would appear to be one of militant anti-intellectualism.