(DISCLAIMER: This blog is not for profit. All images and footage used below are property of their respective companies unless stated otherwise. I do not claim ownership of this material. New to the blog? Start at the start with Snow White.)
- Swedish speaking Finn writes a book.
- Germans, Austrians and Poles adapt it into a TV series.
- Finns adapt TV series into movie.
- Americans dub movie.
- Man kills God.
- Man creates dinosaurs.
- Dinsosaur kills man.
- Woman inherits the earth.
So our story begins in the Moomin valley where it’s Midsummer and everyone’s sweatin’ like a pig. Our characters are Moomintroll, who’s just your basic model Moomin with no added distinguishing features, his mother Moominmomma, his father Moominpoppa and his girlfriend, the Snork Maiden and already I’m hugely confused. Look, these are the Moomins:
And this is the Snork Maiden:
Yeah. Does anyone else think the naming convention in this thing is a little inconsistent? I mean, I’m no Moominologist, but that, to me at least, looks like a fuckin’ Moomin. So why isn’t she named…I dunno…Moominsnorkmaiden?
Yes, yes, I know she’s not actually a Moomin. The Snork Maiden is actually a Snork, which are different from Moomins…somehow. My question is, why create Snorks if they’re just Moomins with hair? Why create two fictional races that are, for all intents and purposes, identical? This would be like if Star Trek created the Klingons and then created another race that were exactly the same only less interesting…
We also meet the Moomins…adopted daughters? I think? Little My and Mymble. Jesus. Is this what it’s like for non-comic fans watching Marvel movies? Like, you’re just plunked into a story with dozens of characters with decades of interalted back story and personal history and just expected to know what’s going on? Alright, well, from what I can gather Little My and Mymble are from another species, called the Mymbles, not to be confused with Mymble, who is Little My’s sister, or their mother, who is known as The Mymble. Also, from what I can tell, in the books they look like humans but in this movie they look like chickens with red hair.
Okay, well let’s talk about something I do know something about. The animation is that special kind of lo-fi, seventies stop motion that I just love. It’s certainly not Aardman level quality but my God, I can’t repel nostalgia of this magnitude. I just find it utterly charming. Shows like The Clangers, Postman Pat and Chorlton and The Magic Roundabout all used the same style and they all had a certain quality…cosiness, is the closest I can come to describing. Just a feeling of familiarity and the sense that everything was fine and would continue to be fine.
Alright, well the nearby volcano starts belching ash and Little My starts cackling that the whole world’s going to burn and they’ll all be charred to a crisp.
Ooooooooookay what the fuck am I watching? That is really creepy. Suddenly the atmosphere of cosy innocence seems less like a comfort and more like a trap. As if any second this thing is going to veer away from Saturday morning innocence into bleak existential horror. Like if you were just scanning down this blog and you saw a picture of me except when you looked closely you saw it was all creepy and fucked up and I was just staring at you with these black, soulless eyes and sharp teeth and it gave you nightmares for the rest of your life.
So it’s so hot and sooty that the Moomins decide to have coffee (just the ticket) and then sleep outdoors where it’s cooler. Moomintroll places a toothbrush beside his bed and says “I brought my new toothbrush, the one my friend gave me.”
Suddenly the earth opens up and swallows his toothbrush and then closes up again and Moomintroll is distraught because it was a GIFT FROM HIS FRIEND. The Moomins see the volcano erupting in the distance and flee…well, they walk calmly back into their house. Yeah, the Moomins are kinda laid back about all this. Losing the toothbrush got a bigger reaction than the Earth’s fire-blood bursting forth to render all to blackest ash. I’m not even kidding, Moominmomma asks if it’s morning already (the sky is bright) and Moominpoppa calmly replies “No dear, the volcano is just spouting fire.” Moomintroll, at least, asks if it’s dangerous and Moominpoppa replies “Well, maybe a wee bit dangerous.”
Then the sea level starts to rise and soon the house is flooded, with Little My shrieking delightedly “It’s the end of the world!” and who is this kid, the Anti-Christ?! Wait a minute…
Moominmomma decides that, trapped in their own home and with the flood waters rising, now is the perfect time for them to go to bed. The next morning the house is still flooded and they’re still trapped. Moominmomma mutters “A change is as good as a rest but this is too much, we don’t even have coffee.”
So the Moomins sit down to breakfast even though the lower half of their house is underwater and the foundations could crumble any second. At least the narrator tells us in his pleasant “Mister Rogers on tranquilisers” voice that it’s the most exciting breakfast the Moomins have ever had. Which I should certainly hope so, as most breakfasts don’t have the threat of iminent death hanging over them as long as there’s enough bacon for everyone.
Meanwhile, we see some of the devastation that the flood has wrought on the rest of the Moomin valley, with many residents trapped on their roofs thanks to the disatrous response of the federal government.
So the two duck people are Misabel and Whomper who ask if they can visit the Moomin’s home even though it’s early in the morning and completely against etiquette. Moominmomma graciously welcomes them in, saying “I do apologise, the house is a bit of a mess today and the living room is underwater.” Suddenly, the water level rises dramatically and their all in danger of drowning (well, at least they had breakfast, most important meal of the day after all). Mymble angrily yells “Sister! What have you done?!” and Little My says that she didn’t do anything. And that’s an odd thing to think, isn’t it? Why would she assume the normal child is responsible for raising the flood levels? That would take some kind of supernatural, dare I say, INFERNAL power? Wouldn’t it? Hmmmmm? Hmmmmmmmm!?
The Moomin family climb up on the roof but as luck would have it a theatre just happens to be floating by and they climb on and just float down the river. ‘Kay.
While exploring backstage, Little My, Mirabel and Whomper realise that they’re not alone…
Well no, it’s not the Predator but it’s still really creepy. They stumble around in the darkness while something watches them with mad staring eyes. After stalking them for a few scenes, the mysterious figure reveals hersefl as Emma, the owner of the theatre who has had it with these motherfucking Moomins on her motherfucking stage. Moominpoppa apologises for crashing her house and Emma explodes saying “It’s not a house! YOU DON’T EVEN KNOW WHAT A THEATRE IS!”
Seeing all the props lying around, Moominpoppa asks if a theatre is a storage place for old junk, which of course it isn’t unless Andrew Lloyd Webber is being staged (hi-yo!). The next day, Mymble, The Snork Maiden and Misabel explore the dressing room which is full of mirrors and Mymble exclaims “it’s a girl’s dream!” which of course is true.
The Snork Maiden suggests that Misabel try a new hairstyle and Misabel basically says that she’s damned if she’s taking fashion tips from a naked hippo and storms off. Mymble and the Snork Maiden then discuss whether the Snork Maiden should wear clothes and I don’t actually think this has ever been addressed in any cartoon I’ve ever seen. There’s so many cartoon characters who don’t wear clothes and never get called on it. And now that this movie’s brought it up…I can’t not notice it.
So it’s around here that the movie really starts betraying its origins as a TV series. There’s a few scenes of the characters just putzing around the theatre that was clearly just supposed to be a five minute episode and doesn’t really have any bearing on the plot so I’m just going to skip ahead. After Emma explains to our five million characters what a play is, the Moomins decide to put on a play because what else are you going to do when you’re floating down a river on a theatre? Moominpoppa is picked to write the play (ugh…that hack?) and Misabel proclaims that she’ll be the leading lady as she’s always wanted to be someone else. This leads to an absolutely flawless transition from a medium shot of Misabel’s model on the stage to a long distance shot of the miniature stage model with a tiny Misabel on it. Seriously, you cannot tell that that’s not the same Misabel at all.
Anyway, the theatre floats past a tree and Moominpoppa decides to weigh anchor and tie the theatre to it. Moomintroll (yeah, remember him? Our lead?) suddenly decides that he has to sleep in this tree and the Snork Maiden then says that she has to sleep in the tree.
Man, I remember what that’s like. When you have a girlfriend but you’re both still living with your parents. It’s tough. You do end up fucking in trees a lot. After everyone’s gone asleep, Emma comes by and sees that Moominpoppa has tied the tree to the theatre’s prompter’s box. Emma asks aloud what she’d do if the prompter’s box was damaged (I dunno, hire actors who can learn their damn lines?) she unhooks the rope and lets the theatre drift away, leaving Moomintroll and the Snork Maiden trapped in the tree.
The next day, the narrator informs us that Moominpoppa and Moominmomma are very worried about Moomintroll and the Snork Maiden. I don’t see why he needs to tell us this, though, it’s so easy to read their expressions.
Whomper sees Misabel crying because they’ve lost Moomintroll, the Snork Maiden and Little My…wait, what?! When did Little My disappear?! And more importantly, what’s she up to?!
Whomper asks Misabel if she’s actually upset and she says no, it’s just a good excuse to cry about some other things. Harsh.
Meanwhile we meet Snuffkin, a Mymble hobo who’s fishing by the river.
Snuffkin sees Little My (his half-sister incidentally) floating by in a wicker basket while the narrator helpfully explains that she had fallen asleep and fell into the river. Because after all, the golden rule of cinema is “Tell don’t Show”.
Snuffkin tells Little My that he has unfinished business with “a certain villain” and she decides to tag along because she is the child of the devil, I believe I’ve made that clear. They come to a park enclosed by a wrought iron fence and full of signs forbidding pretty much everything. Inside the park, children mill around in straight lines under the watchful gaze of the Park Keeper. That don’t sit right with Snuffkin so he tells Little My that he’s going to plant Hattifatteners in the park to destroy the status quo.
What are Hattifatteners? They’re small, ghostlike creatures that grow from seeds and are magnetic. Apparently the Hattifatteners make several appearences in Moomin media and are quite popular, with Finnish children even making snowmen of them OH JESUS CHRIST…
Snuffkin and Little My plant these abominations and watch as they grow, with Snuffkin excitedly saying “soon we’ll be able to see their eyes!”
That is the creepiest goddamn thing anyone has ever said…
Snuffkin then says “When they’re first born they’re highly electric. They burn when you touch them.”
The Hattifatteners swarm around the Park Keeper who can’t believe what he’s seeing, rubbing his eyes and yelling “Have I gone mad?!”
The Park Keeper flees the park, chased by the little nightmare-condoms and Little My and Snuffkin start tearing up the park’s signs. But what about the children? With the Park Keeper chased away they have no one to look after them and they ask if they can tag along with Snuffkin and Little My. Snuffkin, although he says “I foresee disaster.”
Meanwhile Moomintroll and the Snork Maiden come across the discarded signs and are then arrested by the Park Keeper who thinks that they’re the ones who took them down (there’s actually a whole sub-plot with another character that leads into this but no, no more new characters, that’s my quota I’m done). They get locked up in the Park Keeper’s jail (man, the Finnish park service does not fuck around). The Park Keeper finds a flyer for Moominpoppa’s play and decides to go. Moomintroll asks when they’ll be released and the Park Keeper says once they’ve apologised and rebuilt all the signs and written the word”Forbidden” in a notebook five thousand times. The prisoners protest that they’re innocent but th Park Keeper snorts “Innocent Schminnocent! That’s what they all say!”
The Park Keeper leaves them under the watch of his cousin and leaves for the play. Moomintroll and the Snork Maiden now reveal a rather devious side to their personalities, playing on the kind-hearted old cousin’s sympathies by pretending to be freezing cold. It’s perfectly plausible of course. They’re both completely naked and now I can’t stop noticing it.
The Park Keeper’s Cousin lets them out to make them a cup of tea and Moomintroll and the Snork Maiden make a dash for freedom. And then…and then the narrator says “Unless you’ve been behind bars, you can’t imagine how good it feels to be free.”
Huh. Something you want to tell us, Mr Narrator?
Moomintroll and the Snork Maiden arrive back at the theatre before the show starts along with Snuffkin, Little My and their whole coterie of the children of the damned. The curtain’s about to go up but Moominpoppa still hasn’t finished the script because he’s an unprofessional hack.
Moominpoppa is getting more and more frazzled but Emma reassures him by saying “Don’t worry, the audience won’t understand it anyway.”
The play starts but then Mymble’s character is attacked by a lion, Little My rushes the stage to protect her and my God I wish I could say this kind of thing didn’t happen in theatre in real life. After explaining to Little My that it’s just a play, Moominmomma sees Snuffkin’s gaggle of abducted children and does what all trolls do in this situation.
Yeah. She’s just going to keep them. Hope you weren’t too attached to your children, dozens of parents. Moomintroll and his family are reunited. The play is a smashing success and the Moomin family return to the Moomin Valley which is no longer underwater. The end.