For over seven decades, Tove Jansson’s Moomins have captured the hearts of children worldwide. The stories of the hippo-like, fairy-tale family of Finnish trolls have been told through books, comic strips, cartoons, puppet animations, films, music, theatre and film. The phenomenal success of the carefree, adventurous and eccentric Moomins has made them a household name.
In celebration of the release of the latest Moomin instalment, Moomins on the Riviera, out on digital platforms now and on DVD from 28th September, courtesy of Lionsgate Home Entertainment, we reflect back on the making of the Moomins we know and love today…
The Creation of the Moomintroll Character
The Moomintroll character first made an appearance in the early 1940s on a series of anti-Hitler drawings for the Finnish, satirical magazine, Garm. The Moomin-like creature, called “Snork,” could be found in Jansson’s signature or as an active role in the illustrations.
Moomins in the Books
In 1945 the first Moomin story, The Moomins and the Great Flood was published in Swedish by Söderström & Co, but nearly went unnoticed. Jansson’s second and third Moomin books, Comet in Moominland (1946) and Finn Family Moomintroll (1948) are credited with putting the Moomin characters in the spotlight. The Moomin book series includes a total of nine story books and five picture books.
The Moomins invade Britain
In 1954, The Moomins make their Britain debut as a comic strip in London’s The Evening News—the world’s largest newspaper at the time. The purpose of the comic was social and political satire and was targeted to adults. Beginning in 1960, the artist of the comic was Jansson’s brother, Lars Jansson. The Moomins remained a daily part of the newspaper until 1974 with a total of 800 strips produced.
Moomins premier on stage and television
In the late 1950s, Jansson took her rising starlets, The Moomins, to stage in Troll i kulisserna (Troll in the Wings). Jansson created the words and lyrics to the play and songs. The performance was a success and later productions continued in Norway and Sweden. The growing success of the Moomin franchise catapulted the development on the first Moomin television series. The show was a puppet animation aired in Germany.
The introduction of The Moomins to the world of television spurred the creation of Japan’s animated Moomin series. The series aired 65 episodes between 1969 and 1970 and was aimed to an adult audience. However, Jansson never approved the series due to dramatic differences from the original Moomin plot line. Moreover, Jansson and her brother also created a Moomin television series in 1969 in Sweden called Mumintrollet (Moomintroll), which was based on the books. The Moomins even performed an opera in Helsinki in 1974.
More recently, in 1990, another Japanese anime Moomin television series began and followed closely to the original storyline. This was the first Moomin instalment to be dubbed and distributed to other counties. Consequently, the show was broadcasted in 124 countries.
Moominvalley and Moominworld come to life
In 1987, the Moominvalley exhibit opens at the Tampere Art Museum in Tamprere, Finland. The exhibit features Jansson’s original illustrations, original Moominvalley media and 40 Moomin miniatures, including a small Moomin house.
The theme park, Moominworld, opens in Naantali, Finland in 1993. Moominworld brings Jansson’s illustrations to life with Moomin characters, activities and theatre performances.
Moomins on the Riviera
The lovable Moomins hit the big screen in their latest feature film, Moomins on the Riviera, based on the original comic strip created by Tove Jansson and her brother, Lars Jansson. The voice of Moomin is played by Russell Tovey, the voice of Moominpappa by Nathaniel Parker and the voice of Moominmamma by Tacy Ann Oberman. The film was directed by Xavier Picard and co-directed and produced by Hanna Hemilä. The story was written by Leslie Steward, Annina Enckell, Xavier Picard, Hanna Hemilä and Beata Harju.
The Moomins, Snorkmaiden and Little My, in search of adventures of their own, set sail for the Riviera, where, following a journey fraught with menacing storms and desert island dangers, Snorkmaiden is dazzled by the attentions of a playboy and Moomin learns that jealousy’s sting is the most painful of all.
Meanwhile Moominpappa befriends an aristocrat and adopts the name ‘de Moomin’. An exasperated Moominmamma retires to the relative calm of their trusty old boat, to wait for her family to come to their senses. For the very first time, the unity of the Moomins is threatened…
Director Xavier Picard said the inspiration for the animation came from 1950s postcards from the Riviera (with yellow and orange hues), which was the time the original comic strip was created. As for the Moomins, they stayed as close to Jansson’s creations as possible.
The film was created to commemorate the life of Tove Jansson. 2014 would have been her 100th year.
Moomins on the Riviera, out on digital platforms now and on DVD from 28th September, courtesy of Lionsgate Home Entertainment.