The people of Belgium have been left reeling by the first adult-only episode of the Smurfs, in which the blue-skinned cartoon characters’ village is annihilated by warplanes.
The short but chilling film is the work of Unicef, the United Nations Children’s Fund, and is to be broadcast on national television next week as a campaign advertisement.
The animation was approved by the family of the Smurfs’ late creator, “Peyo”.
Belgian television viewers were given a preview of the 25-second film earlier this week, when it was shown on the main evening news. The reactions ranged from approval to shock and, in the case of small children who saw the episode by accident, wailing terror.
Unicef and the family company, IMPS, which controls all rights to the Smurfs, have stipulated that it is not to be broadcast before the 9pm watershed.