The Smurfs and the Magic Flute
|The Smurfs and the Magic Flute|
North American theatrical release poster
|Directed by||José Dutillieu|
|Produced by||José Dutillieu|
|Based on||The Smurfs, by Pierre "Peyo" Culliford|
|Starring||(See cast below)|
|Edited by||Nebiha Ben Milad
|Box office||$19 million|
The Smurfs and the Magic Flute (French: La Flûte à six schtroumpfs, lit. The Flute of Six Smurfs) is a 1976 Belgian animated film starring the Smurfs, directed by their creator, Peyo. Though the film premiered in 1976 in Belgium, and 1979 in the United Kingdom, an English language version was not released in the United States until 1983, in the wake of the characters' newfound popularity.
Although the Smurfs play a major part in the film, they do not appear until 35 minutes into the film. The film, set in the Middle Ages, mainly surrounds Johan and Peewit, a young squire and his jester sidekick. Johan and Peewit had also been created by Peyo in 1952 and it was in their adventures that the Smurfs were first introduced in 1958.
The film was not produced by Hanna-Barbera, the creators of The Smurfs television series, but by Brussels' Belvision Studios and Éditions Dupuis. The voice talent from that show was not present in the English version either; instead, the work was handled by a non-union crew whose members had previously appeared in anime dubs for U.S. television.
A presentation of independent film company Atlantic Releasing in the United States, The Smurfs and the Magic Flute grossed over US$19 million. The film's success led to the creation of Clubhouse Pictures, Atlantic's children's film division.
This story is set at a castle during the Middle Ages. One day a merchant brings musical instruments to sell to Peewit, the court jester, but because Peewit is such a terrible musician the King throws the merchant out before Peewit arrives. However he has left behind a flute that has only six holes. The King throws it into the fireplace in his room, which starts to emit green smoke. When the fire is put out, Peewit retrieves the flute from the ashes unharmed. He cleans it and starts playing it for the whole castle realizing that it causes everyone to dance when it is played.
That night a man named Matthew McCreep learns from the merchant that the same flute he had been looking for is at the castle. He heads over to the castle and steals the flute from Peewit. The king sends Peewit and the young knight Johan out to catch McCreep, who uses the flute to rob people of their money. However McCreep uses the flute to stop them. Johan and Peewit then go to the house of Homnibus the wizard. Using a spell called Hypnokenesis, the wizard sends Johan and Peewit to Smurfland where the magic flute was built.
Upon arriving they meet a Smurf who leads them to the village. Papa Smurf greets the two of them and tells them that they will make a new flute in order to counter McCreep's flute. The Smurfs head into the forest and chop down a huge tree to get wood from the tree trunk's very centre as only this kind of wood can be useful in crafting a magical flute. Afterwards they celebrate with a party. However, just as Papa Smurf is about to give the flute to Johan and Peewit, the two are warped back to the wizard's house. Homnibus tries the spell again but passes out from a headache.
Meanwhile, McCreep, who has now stolen over 7,000 gold pieces, arrives at the castle of his secret partner, Earl Flatbroke. McCreep tells Flatbroke of his plan to go to an island to hire people for an army to raise war on the King's castle; fortunately, two Smurfs had been listening to this. Back at the wizard's house, the Smurfs regroup with Johan and Peewit and give them the magic flute. Then they head to the port of Terminac where McCreep sets sail for the island. However, they are too late. Papa Smurf tells Johan and Peewit about Flatbroke's castle and Johan comes up with a plan.
Flatbroke receives a letter from McCreep (written by Johan) to come to the island. He heads over to Terminac to board a ship where Johan and Peewit are also on board in disguise as well as Papa Smurf and three others. They head to the island where Johan and Peewit tail Flatbroke. Suddenly Peewit comes face to face with McCreep and they both start playing their flutes to each other. They both become exhausted soon after, but Peewit knocks out McCreep with a final note.
With McCreep and Flatbroke being brought back to the castle and all the stolen money recovered, Peewit now has two magic flutes. Johan tells him that the flutes are dangerous and must be brought back to the Smurfs, but Peewit begins to carve a phony flute to give to them instead. At the castle, Johan and Peewit give the flutes back to the Smurfs, and after they leave, Peewit starts playing the flute, only to realize (to his horror) that it has no effect on the townsfolk; it is the fake flute he had made!
- Georges Atlas as Sénéchal
- Jacques Balutin
- Angelo Bardi
- Jacques Ciron as Visitor
- William Coryn as Johan
- Henri Crémieux as Homnibus
- Roger Crouzet as Smurf #2
- Jacques Dynam
- Michel Elias as Papa Smurf
- Ginette Garcin as Dame Barde
- Henri Labussière as Fisherman
- Jacques Marin
- Albert Médina as Torchesac
- Michel Modo as Pirlouit
- Georges Pradez as King
- Serge Nadaud as Guard / Deaf person / Oliver / Silvermonger
- Jacques Ruisseau as Smurf #1
The film is based on La Flûte à six trous ("The Flute with Six Holes"), which appeared in the Belgian weekly comic Spirou magazine in 1958/59. Subsequent book publications renamed it as La Flûte à six Schtroumpfs ("The Flute with Six Smurfs"), which was also the French title of the film.
In 2008, a prequel Les Schtroumpfeurs de flûte ("The Flute Smurfers") was published, marking the 50th anniversary of the original story to introduce the Smurfs. This story tells of how the Smurfs make the magic flute and how it ends up in the hands of a human merchant.
Production and release
Peyo, the creator of the Smurfs, oversaw the production of La Flûte à six schtroumpfs at Brussels' Belvision in 1975. The film was based on Peyo's comic album of the same name, and the ninth to feature his duo of characters, Johan and Peewit. The music score was written by Michel Legrand, a recent Oscar winner for Summer of '42 and the original Thomas Crown Affair. It was released a year later in its native Belgium, and in some European territories subsequently. A book adaptation of the film, by Anthea Bell, was published in Great Britain by Hodder and Stoughton in 1979 (ISBN 0-340-24068-7).
It was not until the success of Hanna-Barbera's The Smurfs cartoon that Flute began to gain widespread attention: in the early 1980s, Stuart R. Ross, head of First Performance Pictures Corporation, acquired the American rights to the film for US$1,000,000. In doing so, he sold those rights to Tribune Entertainment (television), Vestron Video (home video), and Atlantic Releasing (theatrical).
The English dubbing for the movie was not provided by the Hanna-Barbera cast members, but by non-union talent who were contributing at the time to American versions of imported anime. John Rust, the director of this dub, appeared as one of the voices.
The North American release of Flute, courtesy of Ross' First Performance and Atlantic, grossed US$11 million out of a maximum 432 venues, the highest on record for a non-Disney production until The Care Bears Movie in 1985, and was among Atlantic's all-time top five movies at the box office. Thanks to its success, Atlantic released several more animated features, many of which were distributed by their short-lived children's subsidiary, Clubhouse Pictures.
The theatrical poster for the film boasted, "It's the Smurfs' ONE and ONLY full-length motion picture...ever!" Prior to Flute, however, a black-and-white compilation feature, Les Aventures des Schtroumpfs, was released in Belgium in the mid-1960s, and had been forgotten by the time this film debuted in the US in 1983.
The film features Papa Smurf, Brainy Smurf, Grouchy Smurf, Hefty Smurf (named "Strong-man Smurf" in one of the English dubs) Handy Smurf, Clumsy Smurf, Greedy Smurf (named "Sweetie" in one of the English dubs), Poet Smurf, Farmer Smurf, and a new character, Festive Smurf ("Actor Smurf" in a different dub) – who loved to sing and dance and whose priority was wanting to have a party.
However, unlike the Hanna-Barbera cartoons, all the Smurfs (with the exception of Papa Smurf, Grouchy Smurf and Brainy Smurf) look alike and do not have their trademark attributes, just like in the original comic book series. The humor is also closer to the one from the comic books. Rather than being symbolically thrown away, Brainy Smurf is constantly being whacked with a hammer by the other Smurfs simply for talking too much.
The UK dub is different from the American version. Many of the names are wrong (for example, Johan and Peewit's names become John and William, respectively), and several Smurfs are called by the wrong names.
The film was originally released on VHS and laserdisc in September 1984 by the aforementioned Vestron Video. In 1987, Children's Video Library released the film in a 43-minute cut, excising over half an hour of material, reissued later in the decade by the discount Video Treasures and Avid Home Entertainment labels.
A DVD version was released by Morningstar Entertainment in 2008; it was later re-released by Shout! Factory on 14 August 2012. The film was also released to DVD in Canada by Vivendi Entertainment on 22 November 2011. It is the UK dub sourced from PAL masters that is available on DVD.
The film was released to both DVD and Blu-Ray in the UK on 11 October 2010.
Of The Smurfs and the Magic Flute, animation historian Jerry Beck wrote in his Animated Movie Guide:
Is the film any good? It is passable entertainment for Smurfs completists only. Otherwise, mom and dad will have a tough time sitting through this one. There are no standout sequences, nothing particularly endearing, nor is it artistically interesting. It is a bland television cartoon stretched out to fill 74 minutes. As part of 1980s pop culture, the Smurfs are classic icons, and nostalgia value alone might be worth giving the film a look.
- Beck (2005), p. 254.
- Cast list for The Smurfs and the Magic Flute at the Internet Movie Database. Retrieved 6 April 2007.
- "A Rally For G Ratings Clubhouse Gets Bandwagon Rolling For Family Entertainment". Orlando Sentinel. Retrieved 2011-10-01.
- Beck (2005), p. 255.
- BDoubliées. "Spirou année 1958" (in French).
- Trivia for The Smurfs and the Magic Flute at IMDb. Retrieved 6 April 2007.
- The Smurfs and the Magic Flute at Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 5 April 2007.
- All-Time Grosses for Atlantic Releasing at Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 6 April 2007.
- Beck, Jerry (2005). The Animated Movie Guide. ISBN 1-55652-591-5. Chicago Reader Press. Retrieved 5 April 2007.