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Moominland Tales: The Life of Tove Jansson (2012)

The life and work of Tove Jansson, creator of the Moomins.

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Credited cast:
Philip Ardagh ... Himself
Frank Cottrell Boyce ... Himself
Esther Freud ... Herself
Per Olov Jansson ... Himself
Sophia Jansson ... Herself
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... Himself - Narrator (voice)
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The Moomins series of children's books have delighted readers around the world through many decades. But how did they come into existence and who was their author? Tove Jansson's long and eventful life saw many changes in her family, her relationships and native country of Finland. These experiences - light and dark - were never far from her work as a painter, a writer of adult fiction (such as The Summer Book) or in writing and illustrating the Moomins. In this documentary, the life and work of the reclusive Tove Jansson is illuminated by friends, family, colleagues and expert commentators. Written by Anonymous

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moomin | See All (1) »

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Life meets art for the creator of the Moomins.

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Biography

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26 December 2012 (UK)  »

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16:9 HD
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Her Happy Valley
30 November 2017 | by See all my reviews

Creative artists often yearn in vain for total privacy. One of the few who did attain it was Tove Jansson, author of the Moomin stories, who built her own home on a tiny uninhabited island in the Gulf of Finland. It is tempting to attribute Tove's wonderfully clean-swept prose to these wind-buffeted surroundings, although her most famous work was already behind her by this time. Instead she was attending to her first love, fine art, where her achievements tended to be ignored, much to her chagrin.

Despite the smiling images of her old age, this person who brought the world so much happiness did not seem to experience much of it herself. The shock of the war convinced her that she should stay out of marriage - any sons would surely perish in some conflict or other. But in place of children, she would have Moomins. And so, her enchanted valley began to take shape, with the Moomin family at its heart, sensible, stable and supportive, along with a cast of little mythical creatures that children still love to identify with.

The first two stories did not attract much notice. One of the commentators on the film suggests that she was working-off her wartime anxieties. (The first was about a flood, the second about a comet - both seen as alarming and threatening.) But the third volume, 'Finn Family Moomintroll', saw her hitting her stride at last. Before long, she was invited to adapt the stories into strip-cartoons for a London evening paper. Immediately, hundreds of other papers worldwide were clamouring for the same, surely the first time their readers had sampled anything from faraway Finland. And she was firmly launched.

This one-hour profile by BBC Scotland benefits greatly from the commentary by Samuel West and the readings by Janet Suzman - echoing their subject-matter with perfect clear diction, edged with charm and a faint suggestion of magic just round the corner. A couple of other children's authors give heartfelt praise and useful insights too, along with Tove's surviving brother and niece, able to provide glimpses of the home background.


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