Moomins To Star In First Feature Film

Tove Jansson's trolls head for French Riviera

Given how perennially beloved they are, it's amazing that The Moomins have never starred in an original feature film before. There have been TV series - most notably the '80s Polish cut-out animation version and the '90s Japanese anime - theme parks and merchandise, but apart from films compiled from TV versions (like 2010's 3-D Moomins And The Comet Chase), the big screen has so far eluded Tove Jansson's famous Finn family. That's about to change, however, with the news that pre-sales are happening right now at Toronto on the Finnish/French co-production Moomins.

Jansson first created the Moomins in 1945. Moomintroll, Moominmama, Moominpappa, The Snork Maiden, hobo Snufkin, the bossy Hemulens, the tomboyish Little My and various hangers-on and antagonists had adventures across nine novels between their inception and 1970. There were also newspaper comic strips and picture books. The stories got increasingly dark and strange - Moominpappa At Sea is like a kids' book by Silence-era Bergman - but the film will draw from cheerier times.

Actually based on one of the comic strips rather than the novels, the movie will see the Moomins holidaying in the French Riviera. The book is kind of a satire on class and privilege, and includes a character based on Audrey Hepburn (called "Audrey Glamour"). The staff at the Moomins' hotel assume they're eccentric millionaires, while the Moomins are under the impression that they're staying in Hepburn's house.

Since that set-up significantly dates the original, it seems safe to assume that some of the details will change. What is certain is that it's produced and directed by Hanna Hemulen Hemila and Xavier Picard and has been picked up for worldwide distribution by Indie Sales.

"Xavier and Hanna have done a superb job in maintaining the timeless humor, tone and pictorial quality of the Moomins in a sophisticated adventure for the whole family,” said Indie's Nicolas Eschbach, adding that the film will be faithful to Jansson’s original creed, “Live in peace, plant potatoes and dream.”

Moomins should be out in the middle of 2014.