For more than 45 years, a project that came out of the „laboratory“ of Zagreb School of Animated film, called Professor Balthazar is still to this day a cultural phenomenon that every Croat of no matter what age will know of.
A cartoon made by Zlatko Grgić that aired in 1967 was indeed something new on the TV these days. Children loved it instantly, and the love for this smart professor lasted way longer than 1978 when the show ended.
So what is it all about?
Professor Balthazar is a cute scientist who always solves the problems of his fellow-citizens with the help of his magic machine. But what he does is solving the problems by using his imagination and a lot of positive energy. Professor Balthazar is a science communicator, a nature lover, protects anybody in trouble, fights evil, an ecologist, promotes tolerance, peace, and love, and is dedicated to what he is doing. The message this cartoon and its main character are sending is- rely on your brain and help others! No wonder our beloved Professor Balthazar inspired so many children to do so.
The show had 59 episodes divided into four seasons, and the plot always had an unusual start that would allow you to enter this world of imagination in which anything is possible.
But don’t think that this show only glued children to the TV. It’s no secret that many adults watched the cartoon not just because they remember it from their childhood, but also because they recognize how much quality this show had and how powerful the animation and the messages of the show were. There are only a few characters in contemporary art, both in visual arts as well as in literature, who like Professor Balthazar connect different generations and close the circle from parents to children, and then go back again to parents.
The universal message is a non-violent way of problem-solving, so different from the one in most other cartoons where problems are solved using violence or trickery, and the message that the real power is knowledge, not force, has a significant and positive impact. Besides, there is always a lesson on how the happiness of others can make everybody happy. These magnificent stories, told with the help of beautiful colors and drawings, are still so positive and resemble fairy tales. The world of Professor Balthazar is so opposite to the world of violence, deceptions, and lies, the world that the children are unfortunately so often subjected to in contemporary cartoons.
We can only wish that some new generations will re-discover the magic of this show or at least, inspire for some new cartoon show with the same message.