This year saw Finnish national treasures the Moomins turn 70, and the legacy of their creator, Tove Jansson, lives on, with new film Moomins On The Riviera in cinemas now, and the white trolls loved the world over.
“Tove had some innate genius that she could capture themes that are very important to each and every single one of us, says Sophia Jansson, Tove’s niece and the producer of Moomins On The Riviera. “She put them into a world where they became accessible. These creatures don’t look anything like us, but act very human.
“There’s a space of freedom in between, because they are fantastical creatures, so they can in fact do anything. And that’s liberating. If they were humans they would have to be subjected to all the laws we are.”
“Xavier Picard and Hanna Hemilä write and direct the film, and Sophia reveals that it was Picard who decided that Tove’s motto of ‘Live in peace, plant potatoes and dream’ should be its central conceit. Picard thought it was a great quote, as nobody lived like this anymore. However, Sophia states that, “In Finland, we do. It’s important, because it’s something so natural to us. On a broader level, it’s inherently so important that people should actually stop once in a while and think.”
Sophia has received many different pitches over the years, usually for 3D films. She wanted something that was more in the spirit of the Moomins. “Somewhere in the back of my mind, I thought not much has been done on the comic strips, so why doesn’t someone suggest that? I pitched it to my friend Hanna, she did a trial with Xavier, and we liked it.”
Being Human star Russell Tovey provides the voice for Moomin, but Sophia wasn’t aware it was him at the time. “They sent me samples of different voices,” recalls Sophia. “I didn’t get names. I was sent voice files and asked which was suitable. I didn’t know which voice was Russell’s. I chose based on hearing rather than who the voice belonged to.”
Sophia explains that people have only recently realised that Tove was more than just the creator of the Moomins. She is now celebrated as an artist too, but there is crossover in her work.
“She was extremely careful about the end result of her work. Things are not there by chance. She didn’t set out on a mission to show people a particular philosophy, but she was concerned about creating things that have a depth and quality. Most of us when we read, listen or watch things actually want that.”