Remembering the Moomins: A Conversation with Sophia Jansson | The Fan Carpet

Remembering the Moomins: A Conversation with Sophia Jansson

Moomins on the Riviera

Moomins On The Riviera, features the entire Moomin clan as they embark on a hilarious adventure on the glamorous Riviera. After 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.

The Fan Carpet’s Marc Jason Ali in association with Lydia Kay of Acting Hour had the pleasure of talking to Sophia Jansson, the associate producer and niece of Tove Jansson for the release of Moomins On The Riviera



So what was it about the Moomins that make you decide to bring it to the big screen?

Well, you know that there have been films made based on the Moomins books before, but they were a few years ago, when we had a lot of different ideas I told them we didn’t want to move forward with any of them until this one now and this actually was started because the producer is an old friend of mine and I mentioned to her that so its strange that nobody had suggested making a film based on the comic strips. And then she said, Well, hold on a minute, I’m a film producer, can I have a go for you?” And I said, “Sure, why not?” So that’s basically how it came about.


How important was it for you to stay true to the original animation story style of the original cartoons?

Well, it was very important I would say. Yes, definitely, in everything that we do. There is a whole industry around the Moomins these days, what with merchandising and what not.

For me especially because it is important to me, it is extremely important to always link everything to the original for the original comic strips or her work in essence because any interpretation needs to basically pay homage to the original and not be something that we are not proud of.

I know that it is not always doable but definitely with the film we set our goals rather high. We want it, the new Moomins, to look like the original Moomins and we want the story to be true to her original comic strip and so on and so forth.


Do you think it will still appeal to the old generation who remember the series or were you more keen to engage the younger audience?

For sure, I mean if I interpret your question correctly, but that there are those old people alive who will have gotten to know the Moomins in the comic strip through the evening news or in the newspaper, you know, fifties, sixties, seventies and will they react to this film.

Well I think, the aim was to make the film good enough so that these people who feel very strongly about who the Moomins are, are also happy, but having said that of course, there are the younger generations who will be among the people who haven’t grown up with the comic strips are never in their life seen the Moomins so they know nothing about the Moomins, and it was important to introduce the whole kind of Moomins world to them as well, which is why the beginning of the film had to be basically rewritten.

The beginning of the movie where they actually come through the Riviera is really very close to the original comic strip and how it developed, but the Director at the start, said you know, for someone that has never seen the Moomins, we need to introduce them before we go the Riviera otherwise you don’t understand, you need to see contrast and so that was the challenge to actually put it in a very few minutes and briefly an introduction to the Moomins in Moomin Valley, so that a viewer that has never met the Moomins before will understand that okay, this is where it come from, and then they go somewhere else which is to them completely different and very alien and also have the opportunity to mirror these two realities.


Who was your favourite character and why?

Well I tend to say that I don’t have a favourite character because where I work in this company I have to keep a distance so I have to like all the characters equally and I think I keep a bit of a distance, however I am a human so I also have favourites and of course like most finish females I like Little My very much.

She is not just a naughty little girl , I mean she is actually very clever and she has lines that was meant to bring the very sometimes wishy washy, but the Moomins character tend to win over the feelings down to the ground that she says, oh no it’s actually like this and then she gets things forward and those are the qualities I admire in her.



What was the inspiration behind the new Riviera story and was it intended to have a strong moral sub text or was that a happy accident?

I don’t think there was an intent to create any, we really basically utilised the ones that were already in the comic strips and in the nature of comic strips in a humorous way poking fun at certain stereo types and then also at, you know the rich and famous and the wealthy live and have failed there is something other than that but would be equally rewarding.

A much simpler life and where we should not in no way left, all in all, in anyway that some people feels, they are not people they are characters, I should say, so you kind of leave feeling even more appropriate.

And so I figure in anything that over the years which she has been, you know basically for films form so may  levels of interpretation and with my level of interpretation but that’s why her work is in a way so adaptable because you can pick out things and you know and highlight them and they may feel like it but the aim was to make it work on many levels so that you could have adult audience see it as well as a young audience.


What was the reason the story line is more light hearted than the darker undertones of the series when I was watching it?

I think in this particular film you will find less of that melancholy tone that you’d find in some of her work, but not necessarily the comic strip.

I think the comic strips were less on that tone, maybe more poking fun at it and its on the humorous side which is more pleasant.

Again, this is an animation and I think we definitely wanted it to be able to have an adult audience, we believe it will be accessible enough for children and hence maybe it’s left dark.


What was the inspiration behind the new Riviera story and was it intended to have a strong moral sub text or was that a happy accident?

The comic strips starts with them going off to the Riviera, you know what to choose as the preamble to that and you know of course the script always go through lots of different stages and rewrites and of course the script writers and the Director and the Producer wanted to at the end of the day be true to Tove so of course there were different options he would take from other stories to try and work in at the beginning of the film and that was quite challenging because its not easy to cut and do a story that was already played and use parts and bits and pieces which is why we often say stick to one original story because Tove had very carefully thought out the composition and each as an entity and then you start basically taking bits and pieces of it putting them together in your own fashion, it becomes something else and it doesn’t look like Tove’s works.

And that was the real challenge to actually write something good enough at the beginning.


And finally, what is next for you?

Well… I suppose what is endemic of the film industry is will there be a sequel? So we are having discussions on where we would go with a sequel.



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