Smurf village comes to life

June 13, 2011

The town of Juzcar is located in the valley of the Genal river, in Andalusia, in southern Spain. Its mountainous landscape is home to about 15 towns surrounded by trees such as oaks, pines and, mainly, chestnut trees, which are one of the economic bases of many of these towns. Sony Pictures chose Juzcar to host an event to promote its new release “The Smurfs 3D”. There was only one catch: all the houses in the village would have to be painted in Smurf blue! Nearly all the 250 inhabitants accepted and were thrilled as they saw it as an economic opportunity and good for tourism. Only one house in the village would remain white, as its owner didn’t want it painted.

I really wanted to know why Sony chose Juzcar and not another town. I am familiar with the town and its surroundings, as I live only 26 km (16 miles) away. On the way to the village, I pretended I was from Sony and was going to visit the area. To go by car is not easy, it has a charming but narrow and winding road. I became completely absorbed by the natural surroundings. Suddenly everything seemed like the Smurf cartoons, with their villages hidden in the woods.

As I arrived I was surprised to see the village entirely Smurf blue. Normally houses in these typical Andalusian villages are completely white. I saw painters having a break at the entrance to the village and I quickly took my first picture.

The painters decided to go for lunch and wait for another truckload of blue paint, after they ran out. They said they’ve used 9,000 liters (2,377 gallons) so far. While they had lunch I decided to take pictures of the villagers. I saw an elderly couple making the final touches of blue to their facade.

While taking pictures of them they didn’t stop telling spicy jokes, laughing and clowning around. They reminded me of Smurfette and Jokey Smurf, just like in the Smurf cartoons! Smurfette asked me if I had seen the village’s Myclology (study of mushrooms) center. (Yet another similarity to the Smurfs!)

The entire village was intoxicated with the Smurfs and villagers talked using the word “Pitufo”, the Spanish word for Smurf; the Smurf car, the Smurf brush, my Smurf house, the Smurf bar…

The Smurf painters were getting back to work so I followed along.

A Smurf painter asked me if I liked the village. I told him that the houses were the same color as the Moroccan village of Chefchaouen. He liked the answer. I have to admit that after a while I was a bit tired of so much blue. A tourist made the same comment. Juzcar will be blue until September, at which time it will be repainted white.

As I walked around searching for pictures, I ran across a carpenter a couple times, it’s Handy Smurf! I met an elderly man who told me he’s 86 years old. He’s the oldest in the village and for that they have awarded him with the recognition of Papa Smurf.

As time went on, it seemed more and more like the Smurf village; the fictitious characters in real life.

Papa Smurf wanted to be photographed with his wife, in front of their house. I agreed and the picture was edited into the story.

I was almost finished taking pictures and the Smurf painters were wrapping up for the day.

I saw a journalist in the middle of the street interviewing the mayor of Juzcar. When they were finished I watched the journalist make sure the interview had been recorded properly. “No, it can’t be” he cries, and calls to the mayor. “We have to redo the interview”, he said, “your voice has come out like a Smurf”. He pushed play and sure enough I heard how the mayor’s voice sounded like a Smurf. He had accidentally recorded the interview at the wrong speed!

Now I understand how Sony chose Juzcar… They are all Smurfs here!

The only character I didn’t see was Gargamel!

One comment

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I wonder why Sony didn’t choose the heritage town of Jodhpur in western India, also known as Blue City. http://www.photosbymartin.com/images/pcd 4231/jodhpur-fort-91.3.html

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