Moominland Tales: The Life of Tove Jansson (2012) Movie Script

Finland is the home of the Moomins.
The Moomins are the peace-loving,
philosophical family of Moominpappa,
and their son Moomintroll.
Conceived in the 1940s
as a series of children's books,
the Moomins are now a global phenomenon...
making their creator, Tove Jansson,
one of the most successful
children's authors of all time.
And yet she remains eclipsed
by the success of her work.
She is known, if at all,
for her supposed
hermit-like existence on a
remote island in the Gulf of Finland
and not for the lyrical
adult fiction she wrote there,
nor the career as a painter
she pursued so ardently
throughout her life.
Like her work, Tove Jansson's
own story has many other sides
and transformations.
From her birth in 1914
to her death in 2001,
her life was as colourful, complex
and as stormy as her greatest creations.
# Don't know why
# There's no sun up in the sky
# Stormy weather
# Since my man and I ain't together
# Keeps raining all the time
# Life is bare
# Gloom and misery everywhere
# Stormy weather
# Keeps raining all the time... #
Well, she was quite small
and very gracious.
Thin and little, like a ballet dancer.
Even when she was really old.
She had an amazing ability
to acknowledge every person's presence
and be interested.
She was very friendly,
but she could also hold back
when she didn't want to answer.
Inspired by her love of animals, nature
and the changing seasons,
Tove Jansson charted
the adventures of the
tightly-knit Moomin family
and their eclectic collection of friends
across a series of eight books.
The Moomins live in Finland,
somewhere where
it's so cold in the winter
they have to hibernate.
The Moomin family consists of
Moominpappa, with his top hat,
with his love of sailing.
Moomintroll is very eager, very curious
and he's very attached to his mother.
Moominmamma has this big handbag,
like Mrs Thatcher,
and the handbag's got everything in it.
I mean, everything is in that handbag.
I think that this concept of family
really is very crucial
for the success of the books.
But it's not really
just this three Moomin unit,
because it's an extended family.
We have Snufkin.
And he's the character that you wanted
to be when you're a kid, I think.
You want to be Snufkin.
I definitely wanted to be Snufkin
and then woke up one day
and found myself Moominpappa.
Hemulens generally wear dresses,
which is why they curtsy, not bow.
They're generally obsessed
with collecting things,
whether it be stamps
or plants or butterflies.
And then there's Little My, who's
this very ferocious little creature,
very tiny, lives in the cutlery drawer.
And she's disgraceful,
she has no respect for anything
and she'll kick and
she'll be incredibly rude
and say all those things
you wish you could say yourself.
There are characters in those books
who kind of set your teeth on edge,
Fillyjonk and loud Hemulens and stuff,
but you learn that they have their reasons.
And you learn that they
have their uses as well.
That's even more important, really.
I would say that if she had one
big theme, it would be tolerance.
While the Moomins lived together
in easy harmony,
Tove Jansson's family dynamic
was more complicated.
They were close as a family,
yet they all were active separately
and they gave each other space
to be themselves.
Tove Jansson and her two
younger brothers, Per Olov and Lars,
grew up in a crowded artist's studio
in the country's capital, Helsinki.
The city provided an eclectic mix
of architectural styles,
cultures and languages.
Her own family were part of a
minority of Swedish-speaking Finns
who lived alongside the majority
of Finnish speakers.
Her father, Viktor,
worked as a sculptor
in the classical tradition.
My father was a sculptor.
His main theme for many years
was the female form.
And Tove was his favourite model.
Father loved big storms
and he loved fires.
If there was a fire
somewhere in Helsinki
and Father saw smoke
rolling above the ceilings,
then he gathered his children
and went fire-hunting.
Moominpappa, of course, was Father,
loving storms and adventures.
The family could not always rely
on their father's commissions
to put food on the table.
To ensure a steady income,
their mother, Signe Hammarsten,
otherwise known as Ham,
worked as a graphic artist for hire.
Mother sat working at her table,
Tove beside her.
And Tove had pen and paper
and Tove looked at what
Mother was doing
and then she made her own drawing.
Tove Jansson showed artistic promise
almost as soon as she could hold a pen.
Tove developed her drawing technique
when she saw Mother creating
postage stamps with narrow
black lines on white paper.
She has described that
the safest place in the world
is inside your mother's tummy.
So there's sort of a
little world of their own
where no-one else can come in.
Mother was the typical Moominmamma,
staying at home and preparing
a good meal for her family.
Serene at all times.
Nothing could shake her.
Not only were Viktor Jansson's
commissions unreliable,
but also his moods,
which his family attributed to trauma
he'd suffered as a soldier
during the Finnish civil war of 1918.
Tove Jansson would reflect on this
in her writing decades later.
"Dad became gloomier and gloomier
"until he finally stopped
talking altogether.
"One morning, he
didn't even go out fishing.
"He simply lay in bed, staring at
the ceiling with his lips clenched."
Father started drinking too much,
then he became unfaithful.
Mother never showed anything.
Tove, naturally,
knew much more about the
the trouble between
Mother and Father...
and she sided with Mother.
She sublimated her own difficulties
by transferring them
to the Moomin figures.
She was unable to show anger,
but Little My did.
And Snufkin could just
walk away from it
and Tove couldn't.
Like many Finns,
the Janssons would leave their
cramped city dwelling each summer
and head for the open sea.
The Nordic landscape
in the Gulf of Finland,
which Tove Jansson explored as a child,
would later seep into her fiction,
appearing as the lush valleys and
unexplored coastlines of Moominland.
They liked it so much there that
then they came back every summer,
to the extent that now
everybody else in the family
has also spent their summers
in this same spot.
It becomes a really important place
and it is a really
important place for us.
It's still quite a long way,
but it's obviously much easier
than it used to be.
Today, what we do is we drive
to a town about 50 kilometres
to the east of Helsinki
called Borga, or Porvoo in Finnish.
Like the Jansson family,
the people of Porvoo
were traditionally
Swedish-speaking Finns.
It used to be predominately
Swedish-speaking, but
hardly any cities in Finland
that are Swedish-speaking anymore.
And then from there you go
on to a place called Tirmo...
and when you get to Tirmo
there's a ferry
and you have to wait.
And then the ferry ferries
you over to a set of islands.
They go by the name of Pellinge.
The road continues over bridges and
eventually you get to
where the Gustafssons live.
The Gustafssons rented their house
to the Janssons most summers
throughout Tove's childhood.
The two families have remained
friends for over four generations.
Hey, hey!
When the Jansson family
started coming here,
they had to make the whole journey
from Helsinki to these islands by boat.
Once at the Gustafssons' house,
the Janssons would sleep together
in one room throughout the summer.
Ja, ja.
It was here that the young Tove,
already an accomplished cartoonist,
amused her little brothers
by scribbling her first Moomin
on the wall of the outside loo.
It was not long before Moomin
was out of the water closet
and onto the pages of the
Swedish language press.
Tove's formidable talent
for caricature
had caught the eye of Garm, a satirical
magazine which commissioned
drawings from her before
she had even left school.
The early version of Moomin
she drew in Garm
was known as the Snork.
And this is the first picture where
you can see the actual Snork.
But it doesn't very much resemble
the Moomin we know today,
which is very round and soft
and wonderful and kind.
This is more like a
nightmare Moomin.
And the picture is depicting
the person's nightmares
when he's very drunk
and coming home very late.
And the joke in this picture
is that the gentleman is saying,
"Well, it must have been a very cold night
"because all the ground is frozen."
And he's stepping on glass
on the way to his home.
Although Tove Jansson had been a recognised
graphic artist from as young as 14,
she knew that her passion
lay with painting and fine art.
In 1933, she enrolled
in the fine art course
at Helsinki's Ateneum.
When Tove was born,
the father said that he hoped
their daughter would be an artist.
And that was a very important
thing for Tove, for all her life.
Almost immediately,
she would encounter the first
barriers to her ambition.
She thought that the teaching
and teachers were boring,
and they were.
I think they were very
old-fashioned and conservative.
Very many men thought that
women's place is in the kitchen.
Really, they think so.
They believed in that.
Tove Jansson would eventually abandon
the formal training of art school.
Instead, she continued her studies
with a private tutor,
the charismatic and
respected painter Sam Vanni.
Seeing something special in his pupil,
Sam Vanni asked her to sit for a portrait.
She has a pen and a paper
and, actually, I'm sure that
she is drawing his picture.
"When it begins to get dark,
Samuel gathers his brushes together
"and with a joy that hurts
"I look at his picture
and tell myself
"it couldn't be so beautiful
if he didn't love me."
She's so eager,
she's eager to see even more.
She's not like a passive woman.
Sam saw, in Tove, the intelligent woman.
Tove had very many men,
so I think Sam wasn't
the only one all the time.
While Tove Jansson's romantic life
had found the light,
dark clouds would form
across her country
with great consequences
for her family and friends.
In the winter of 1939,
the Soviet Union conducted a partially
successful invasion of Finland,
casting a shadow across
the small country's future.
As Finland contemplated
how to expel the Soviets,
Nazi Germany's war machine spread across
Western Europe and into Scandinavia.
My father wanted me to enlist
and my mother cried.
I'd never seen her cry so much.
It was a difficult time for me.
Should I obey Father or obey Mother?
I decided to wait.
Caught between these
two expanding empires,
Finland agreed to co-operate with
the Nazi invasion of the Soviet Union.
"...starten zum Angriff im Rahmen von..."
Within days of the Nazi-led assault,
the Soviets had begun their
bombing campaign of Finland.
Still working for Garm,
Tove Jansson began
a series of illustrations which
reflect the plight of her country.
There is the angel of peace
and here you can see
the demolished earth
with ruins and aeroplanes bombing.
The message is very, very clear.
Tove Jansson was very...
upset over war
and she was feeling it very deeply.
She wasn't a political person at all,
but she sensed it in a human way.
She didn't like the Germans,
she didn't like the Soviet Union.
She hated the war.
"Finnische Truppen im Stoss auf..."
By now, Tove's brother,
Per Olov, had been drafted
into the Finnish army.
The war affected my family deeply.
And I've always...
thought that it affected my family
more than it did me...
because I was in the middle of it...
and they could only guess
and be afraid.
Tove Jansson attempted
to capture this fear
in a family portrait.
It's a picture of
a family in trouble.
It's also a picture of Finland.
It's an extraordinary painting.
She was working with it
for several years.
And it was very difficult
for her to paint it.
The picture of Tove in the middle,
dressed in black,
was like she's watching
all over the family.
And Father is on one side
and the mother is on the other side.
Tove is some kind of
dividing point in the picture.
And then there is the two brothers,
Per Olov who was in the war,
and the little brother, Lars,
who was not yet in the war.
War would also separate
Tove from many of her friends,
including the Jewish photographer
Eva Konikoff,
who fled Finland for America in 1941.
Tove poured out her feelings to Eva
in a series of illustrated letters,
which reveal that, far from
being solely a visual artist,
she also had a talent for writing.
It became a kind of diary.
Yes, a kind of diary
to write these letters.
There are several pages in them.
They could be seven, eight, nine pages.
"Sometimes it feels as if
something of the collected agony
"of the whole world
has been weighing heavily in me
"like a lump and threatening
to burst apart."
Everything is just very depressing,
she thinks, during the war.
There is no inspiration at last,
even to work,
- which is, for her, a very...
- Mm.
very sad thing.
In her letters to Eva,
Tove indicates her growing resistance
to a conventional family life.
"It's a man's war.
"I can see what will happen
to my work if I get married.
"I will become either a
bad painter or a bad wife.
"And I don't want to
give birth to children
"only for them to be killed
in some future war."
You have a feeling that
she's quite a feminist here,
but it's her feminism,
I would say.
She could see that she was an artist.
She would never have had time
for family and children.
Her art was more important
than anything else.
She was ready to...
to live without a family.
As Tove Jansson
came to the realisation
that she would never
have a family of her own,
she began to invent one.
The Moomins would bring
together her gifts as an artist
with her fluency as a writer.
Her fictional family,
and the magical landscape
in which she painted them,
would draw on the
bleak realities of the day.
In the opening months of war,
Tove Jansson had started writing
her first novel for children,
Moomin And The Great Flood,
in which a torrential deluge
surges through Moominvalley,
separating Moomintroll
and Moominmamma
from Moominpappa.
I think you could say that
she wrote her first two books
in the shadow of the war.
Because they are refugees,
and for Moomintroll,
the family's splitting up.
Moomintroll is trying to
find his father
and a new home with his mother.
There are very many
dangerous things
before they get to the happy ending.
That first book set the tone
that this was a family with all these
catastrophes happening to them,
but through being who they
were they would make it
and the ending
would be a good ending.
The book was followed by
Comet In Moominland,
in which the hero Moomin
faces another catastrophe.
"Look," whispered Sniff in terror.
The sky was no longer blue,
it was pale red.
"Perhaps it's the sunset,"
said Snufkin, doubtfully.
But Moomintroll looked
very grave and said, "No.
"This time, it's the comet.
It's on its way to Earth."
There's a flood in the first one
and then there's the comet
in the second one.
She was truly fascinated
by the comet.
She returned to it several times
as a symbol or as a metaphor
for the fear of the bombs,
the fear of the annihilation.
But that's quite unique,
I think, for a children's book.
By the end of 1944,
another disaster
had fallen on Finland.
Following its Armistice with
the Soviets in September,
the country had turned its attention
to driving out the Nazis,
who left a trail of devastation
in their wake.
Tove Jansson's response
in satirical magazine Garm
was immediate and direct.
She's very clearly showing that
the Nazi symbol is drowning,
and people, very different
persons here,
they are anxious
to get away from it,
so that they won't drown themselves.
I think that this is much more brave
than we could imagine today.
Another conflict, one between
Tove and her father Viktor,
was coming to a head
within the Jansson household.
It was time for her to
choose a home of her own.
In 1944, she found one
in the centre of Helsinki.
It was an artist's studio, really.
Some of the walls were broken,
the windows were broken
but that didn't matter, it was her studio
and I think it was love at first sight.
She could work here, she could
live here and she could love here.
In her new studio,
Tove celebrated the end of the war
and welcomed in an exciting period
of experimentation and self-discovery.
- Of course.
- Of course. Tove danced all the time!
Still heady with post-war optimism,
Tove encountered a new lover
who would change her life for ever -
actress and aspiring theatre
director Vivica Bandler.
Tove fell passionately in love with her.
Not only were same-sex relationships
outlawed in Finland at that time,
but Vivica was married.
Tove wanted to speak of her love,
she was so happy
and Vivica said to her,
"We must be very, very careful."
She didn't want to speak of it
as openly as Tove wanted.
The affair was intense but brief
and ended within weeks
when Vivica went abroad to work.
She had had her love story,
a love story with a woman,
and she was very sad,
very disappointed
and she tried to raise herself again.
Tove threw herself
into a commission to paint
two society scenes for a restaurant.
The twin frescoes are now conserved
in a public building in Helsinki.
I think that Tove has put
everything in this one.
As with the Moomin books,
Tove Jansson wove the recent events
of her own life into one of the frescoes.
The end of her affair with
Vivica is there for all to see.
The name of the fresco is Autumn Party.
The summer is over and
the autumn is coming and
she is not happy in that picture.
It's a bad day.
She portrays herself alone
while Vivica dances
with a different partner.
"I know the whole of my painting
"is going through a
process of change just now,
"becoming stronger and more alive
and this is thanks to you.
"Lines and colours aren't enough
"if there is no expression
and zap and intensity in them -
"even if it's the intensity of despair."
If you take a good look,
you find every time something new.
Beside Tove sits Moomintroll,
by now her constant companion,
along with her cigarettes.
I think Moomin is sitting
at the table near Jansson,
drinking champagne and smoking.
Tove also recorded her secret love
for Vivica in her third
and most successful Moomin book -
Finn Family Moomintroll.
In Finn Family Moomintroll, there are
two creatures, Thingumy and Bob,
and they come into Moomin Valley,
they have their own language,
no-one else can understand it
and they're carrying a suitcase
with a secret content.
Eventually it's revealed that it is a ruby,
a red ruby with a very,
very fantastic light.
Also they are chased
by the Groke, she is dark,
symbolising a sort of fear.
The Groke wants to
get hold of this content too
because she claims it is hers.
So the ruby is a symbol of love.
They had to hide their love
away for the society.
There you can see the story
between Tove and Vivica
and their secret love.
Tove's personal transformation
was also reflected in the
bigger themes of the book.
In the Finn Family Moomintroll,
the Hobgoblin loses his hat
and the problem with the Hobgoblin's hat,
or the plus side,
depending on your luck,
is if something falls into the hat
it will become something else.
And Moomin unwittingly
hides in the Hobgoblin's hat
and he emerges completely changed,
but he doesn't know that he's changed
because he thinks he's Moomin,
and all his playmates, the Snork,
the Snork Maiden,
they don't recognise him.
He becomes very, very upset.
And then Moominmamma comes in and he
says, "You recognise me, don't you?
"I'm Moomintroll," and she just goes,
"Yeah, you're Moomintroll."
She doesn't blink for a second,
she knows it's her son. No matter
how much he's changed,
she knows it's her son and it's just...
Even as a kid, I just found that really...
And it just came out of...
not an emotional story,
it was a funny story about hiding
in a Hobgoblin's hat and then suddenly
this punch of love comes through
and knocks you sideways.
The book reflects the
acceptance by Tove's own family
of her romances with women,
but in the wider society of Finland,
same-sex relationships
would remain illegal until 1971.
While the first two Moomin books
went largely unnoticed,
Finn Family Moomintroll became
Tove Jansson's breakthrough.
Its translation into English in 1950
inspired a London agent
called Charles Sutton to come to
Helsinki to meet the author.
Their auspicious meeting
would take place in suitably
impressive surroundings.
The Hotel Kamp was the
most wonderful luxury hotel
and luxury restaurant,
the most famous hotel in Finland.
Charles Sutton offered Tove Jansson
a lucrative deal to create
a comic strip for
a British daily newspaper.
Tove was still a relatively poor artist,
exchanging her paintings for heating fuel.
Tove was quite excited
about learning this new thing,
this new art of
making comics but
she was an artist, and at first,
instead of speech balloons she wanted
to have the text beneath the panels
and they said, "No, you have to
follow those rules, of course."
Tove quickly adapted her skills
to the comic strip form
while also making it her own.
Within a very short time,
only by the third panel,
Tove Jansson's already doing
one of her big innovations,
something I was not aware anybody else
has done before in newspaper strips,
which is to use different
graphic elements of the story
to divide the panels.
Here's a wonderful example
where Moomin is using a hosepipe,
which creates the actual
surround of the first panel
and then it is trailered as a kind of
flow through to guide the reader.
Here, for example,
it's a ghostly story,
so one of the ghosties
is actually a dividing form.
And here, very cleverly,
she uses a door opening
as the panel border to allow
the characters to rush through.
Sutton pulled off a deal with
London's Evening News
who would carry the Moomin cartoon
strip to over 1.5 million readers.
In 1954, they launched
a massive campaign
to herald the arrival of Moomin.
They took quite a long time to
build up anticipation for this strip
because this was a big, big thing.
They're putting teaser images,
they put this very cryptic image.
You opened the newspaper and
see a huge bottom with a tail.
Of course, you start to wonder,
"What on earth is this
and what's going on?"
So I think the campaign was genius.
Moomin was a hit.
120 newspapers ran the strip worldwide,
reaching 12 million readers.
It brought an end
to Tove's money worries
and led to further requests
for Moomin-related projects.
One offer she did accept was to
stage the Moomins in the theatre,
an experience she would share
in her next Moomin book.
In Moominsummer Madness,
there's a flood
and this strange vessel floats by,
but they actually tie it up,
they tether it up to the house.
What a beautiful image.
But they don't know what it is.
"After a while, Moominpappa
pushed back his hat
"and looked sharply out
over the sea.
"Something strange was on its way,
carried by the inward current.
"It was quite clearly
a kind of house.
"Two golden faces were painted
on its roof, one was crying
"and the other one
laughing at the Moomins."
I think she was quite fascinated by,
you know, these tricks
and how you can transform yourself
and that everyone gets up on the
stage and they are someone else.
That is a mix between people that
are satisfied with being themselves
and people that
want to be someone else.
Tove Jansson's own identity was
being transformed by the demands
of countless public engagements,
including appearances on television.
I don't think that she could
possibly have envisaged
becoming quite so famous.
People asked her over and over again,
for ever, to,
"Please, can you draw me Moomin?
Can you do this?"
She was now attracting
over 2,000 fan letters a year.
She answered the letters all her life.
She wanted to do it for herself,
not having an assistant or secretary.
On top of this, her newspaper
contract committed her
to producing six strips
a week for seven years.
This constant creation of new stories
for Moomin was taking its toll,
as well as eclipsing
her ambitions in painting.
In her notes at this time,
she's quite aggressive
about her own creation...
"I've poured out my feelings
into Moomintroll but he's changing.
"I no longer feel safe in my
secret cave. It's trapping me inside."
and you can see that in the
figure of the Moomintroll.
He gets bigger and bigger
and is really, really big,
and it's like a metaphor
for the artist that is hidden.
She is hidden
behind a Moomintroll.
It's just a Moomintroll,
it's not Tove Jansson any more.
It all came at a very high price.
She practically fell apart.
Her commitments to the
newspapers and the public
did more than threaten her spirits.
By 1956, over two years had passed
with no sign of a new book.
It seemed Moomin's adventures
beyond the comic strip were over.
This particular favourite of mine
is from the first story
and it has Moomin saying,
"I only want to live in peace
"and plant potatoes and dream."
And knowing Moomin's character,
that sums him up perfectly, I think,
and it sums up also, I think,
a longing in Tove Jansson
for the simpler life -
not having to strive and try and be
more and more successful and rich.
As her obligations wore
away at her creativity,
a new muse was
about to enter her life.
Following an introduction at a party,
Tove was invited
to listen to jazz records
at the home of a fellow artist -
Tuulilkki Pietila.
Tuulilkki lived a bit away from the
studio and it was a very cold winter,
there was a lot of snow and she
walks all this way to Tuulilkki,
thinking of Tuulilkki and the snow
and what she's going to experience,
and they play their records
and Tuulilkki had a bottle
of wine behind a curtain.
And they talked about Paris,
both of them.
Well, they talked about
other things you can talk about
when you meet
someone that you
know that you're going to love.
Not only had Tove found a partner
for life in Tuulilkki Pietila,
but that love would reignite
Tove's interest in Moomin
and inspire a new book.
Well, she began writing
Moominland Midwinter.
She was often sitting
at Tuulilkki's place.
So that is really
the book of Tuulilkki
and Too-Ticky,
as she is called in the book,
a new character.
In the character of Too-Ticky,
a sea-loving tomboy,
Tove Jansson created
a soulmate for Moomintroll
just as Tuulilkki had become for Tove.
It's a book about how beautiful
the winter can be
and how philosophical
the winter can be.
You can say that Too-Ticky,
she's the philosopher of the winter,
though she says nothing
is secure and that's the point.
You never know and that is
just the point with the winter.
So Moomintroll, in this book,
he experiences a lot of new things,
just as Tove did, I think,
with Tuulilkki.
In Moominland Midwinter,
Moomintroll's habitual
hibernation is disturbed,
and for the first time,
he wakes during winter,
revealing an unfamiliar
version of a world
he has only experienced
in the warmer months.
The squirrel comes out too early
when the snow's still on the ground
and he gets frozen and there's
a wonderful picture of him here
with all four paws in the air,
lying on his back,
but looking strangely peaceful
and the little mouse says,
"He's quite dead,"
in her matter-of-fact way
and I think she's secretly
rather pleased.
Then there's this wonderful footnote
at the bottom of the next page
that says, "In case the reader
feels like having a cry,
"please take a quick look at page 126,
author's note."
So we whizz through to page 126
and sure enough, two more pictures
of a rather nice little squirrel
scampering around in the snow.
So, I think he made it.
By the time the book was
published the following year,
Tove and Tuulilkki,
or Tooti, as she was known,
were almost living together.
Tooti had her studio, sort of
around the corner, in the other street,
but they could get to
each other through the attic.
So Tove would be here
in this studio working
and Tooti would be
in her studio working
and then they would meet
and have lunch.
Well, they could be together
but then they could return home
when they wanted to and
it was also very important
because both of them were artists,
and they could have
a studio of their own.
That was very important,
I think.
Work was the most
important thing.
By 1960, Tove's talents as a writer
and illustrator had
brought her wealth and fame
and yet her true ambition -
to be acknowledged as a fine artist -
remained unfulfilled.
Determined to change this,
she turned down the opportunity
to renew her comic strip contract.
Its responsibility would pass
to her youngest brother Lars,
a talented cartoonist in his own right.
After the cartoons,
she was full of energy,
eager to paint.
There was a big exhibition in Helsinki
and all the other artists
were abstract artists,
except Tove.
Tove has her apples and citrons
and they had to put her work
away from the big hall
to a smaller room because
it wouldn't suit the others,
so it wasn't very easy and
I think it hurt her very much.
In search of solace, Tove returned
to the peaceful little islands
in the Gulf of Finland
she had enjoyed as a child.
Instead of renting the Gustafssons'
house as her parents had done,
Tove and Tooti began a project
to build their own house
on a tiny island that
would be all their own.
This house would be a haven,
somewhere Tove and Tooti
could work through the summer,
out of the spotlight,
living a simple life.
A 30-minute boat ride from the
Gustafssons' island towards the open sea
took them to their chosen spot,
a tiny uninhabited island
of Klovharu.
After two years of challenges
and setbacks to construction,
the simple, charming house
was completed.
To reach it, Tove and Tooti
often braved the elements
but, for them, it was worth it.
One of the greatest pleasures
the girls, Tove and Tooti, had here
was to actually watch
the sea and the storms.
This place changes
character completely.
You can watch the sea raging
and from all directions.
When Tove and Tooti moved out here,
they had a good view of any boat
that was coming in
so they would see us coming.
Most often, Tove would, of course,
run out of the house,
you know, with a warm, warm welcome.
And often Tooti would say hello
from there and be smoking cigarettes.
Then you'd go on a picnic and
you'd be looking for beautiful stones,
or swimming,
doing all sorts of things. So she was
always ready for a small adventure.
It was always nice
to come here, actually. Yeah.
In some ways, it was very hard
because of the weather.
They had to plan for the food,
for everything, for weeks ahead.
They didn't have electricity.
They didn't have any toilets,
they didn't have any of these things
you are used to when you
live in the city, for example.
Tove's island adventure helped her
regain the freedom she longed for.
While here in 1970,
she began her next Moomin tale,
Moominvalley In November,
which features a
new character called Toft,
whom she based on herself.
When it begins,
Toft arrives at the Moomin house,
only to find the Moomins
are not home.
The book would send shock waves
through Moominland... and its readers.
All the people who are very dependent,
emotionally, on the Moomins,
come to the Moomin house
for comfort and for pancakes
and good conversation,
and they're not there!
There is this sense of autumn and winter
and knowing that the end is coming,
but all with the hope
of the Moomins returning,
they're coming back
from somewhere by boat.
While writing the book,
Tove faced a devastating personal loss.
Ham, her mother, took ill and died
in the mid-summer of 1970.
In the autumn, Tove resumed her work.
Rather than return
to her remote island,
she stayed at the Gustafssons' house,
where she found
comfort and inspiration.
"Just before the sun went down,
"it threw a shaft of light through
the clouds, cold and wintry yellow,
"making the whole world
look very desolate.
"And then Toft saw the storm lantern
"Moominpappa had hung up
at the top of the mast.
"It threw a gentle,
warm light and burnt steadily.
"The boat was a very long way away."
You don't really know if they
are coming back to Moominvalley.
It's left to the reader to decide,
or to imagine if the Moomins
are coming back or not.
Having lost her father Viktor in 1958
and now Ham, her mother,
the family of Tove's childhood
was disappearing.
Just as the Moomin house
was now empty,
the Jansson household would
never be complete again.
It became some sort of turning point,
or an ending point.
Now this is the end of the Moomins
also when Ham is gone.
It's an extraordinary melancholic book.
And when later on one finds out
what Tove herself was going through
when she wrote it, that again
puts another perspective on it.
I was devastated when the Moomins
didn't turn up at the end.
I thought, "Surely...!" You know,
because everyone in it was so sad.
And, of course, as an adult
reading that book, I know
they never came again,
because Tove Jansson
never wrote another Moomin book.
Ending the Moomin series
only increased interest
in its author...
still struggling with
the loss of her mother.
And the business matters
were never-ending.
It was the agreements and the rights
and translations and enquiries
and demands of all kinds.
And because she had a bit of a
hard time saying no herself,
she needed somebody
like Tooti to actually,
you know, say,
"No, she's not available."
To escape these relentless pressures,
Tove turned once again to adventure,
and in July 1971, she embarked on
a trip around the world with Tooti.
"Tooti and I are going to
go around the world!
"Japan, then Hawaii
and San Pedro, and Mexico,
"and, by multifarious ways,
including a paddle steamer,
"up through the States to New York!"
On their travels
they always bought
a lot of records abroad.
And when they lived in
New Orleans for some time,
they went to jazz clubs
every evening.
"I haven't quite yet realised it's true.
"Tooti's studying English -
four to five hours a day -
"and the map of the world
is constantly open."
Whilst travel provided
a welcome distraction,
Tove's thoughts would return
to her absent mother, Ham...
eventually giving birth
to a new book.
One of the ways to deal with
her mother's death for Tove
was to write that book.
The Summer Book would be
a decisive move into adult fiction,
and is now celebrated as a classic
of Scandinavian literature.
It is based on observations of
Tove's six-year-old niece Sophia
and Sophia's grandmother Ham
during one of the last summers
of Ham's life.
Both the main characters,
Sophia and grandmother,
are in sort of points of crisis.
Grandmother's ill and frail
and Sophia asks her,
I think, in the first few pages,
"Grandmother, when are you going to die?"
And she says, "It's none of your
business. But it's going to be soon."
And that's what she knows.
Sophia's mother has
very recently died
and she's come to the island
with her father
who is very absent.
Again, Tove drew on real life.
Two years before Ham's death,
the Janssons suffered
a terrible loss.
Sophia's young mother
had died suddenly.
Her father Lars, already taxed
with his Moomin comic work load,
would now have to cope
as a single parent.
My father didn't discuss
my mother's death.
Not then, and not later.
It was...
That was his way of handling it.
I was an only child
and at the time,
the only child on these islands.
So, while the adults were doing
other things, my grandmother,
she'd be left to spend time with me.
They'd do wonderful strange
and eccentric games.
Create Venice out of a marsh.
You find yourself thinking,
"Yes, why not?"
You know, if there's nothing else to do,
you'd find yourself doing
anything to pass the time.
Things like dressing up.
Those sort of things were...
You did things for fun.
It's as if her and her grandmother
are both able to be completely honest.
They have nothing to lose.
They describe people as they really are
rather than how someone else
might politely describe them.
There's a moment when
Grandmother's false teeth go missing
and everyone starts
searching for them.
"It was an early,
very warm morning in July
"and it had rained during the night.
"The granite steamed,
"the moss, the crevices,
were drenched with moisture
"and all the colours
everywhere had deepened.
"Below the verandah,
the vegetation in the morning shade
"was like a rainforest
of lush leaves and flowers,
"which she had to be careful
not to break as she searched.
"She held one hand in front of her mouth
"and was constantly afraid
of losing her balance.
""What are you doing?" asked little Sophia.
""Nothing," her grandmother answered.
""That is to say," she added angrily,
""I'm looking for my false teeth!""
At the age of 58,
Tove had transformed herself again.
With the Moomin stories behind her,
she became a respected
writer of adult fiction,
producing a substantial body
of short stories and novels,
praised for their acute
and witty observations.
Tove and Tooti spent almost
30 summers on Klovharu.
But by 1992,
they were both in their 70s
and their island adventure
was coming to an end.
"Last summer, something
unforgivable happened.
"I started to fear the sea.
"The giant waves no longer
signified adventure, but fear -
"fear and worry for the boat
"and all other boats that were
sailing around in bad weather.
"We knew it was time
to give the cottage away."
Once they'd left,
they never wanted to come back.
They didn't even
want to talk about it.
It was the end, and that was it.
In the last decade of her life,
Tove was diagnosed with cancer.
She had stopped smoking. She smoked
all her life. And I still smoked.
And then she said, "Could I just
taste a puff from your cigarette?"
And then she took it, and said,
"No, it's not good. Not good at all!"
She wanted to be like it was before,
but she was tired.
But she was still...
she was still Tove.
I remember once
when I said goodbye to...
to Tooti and Tove,
they stood close together
in Tooti's hall.
maybe that was the last time.
And they just looked so,
you know, a close couple.
Tove died on a summer's day
in 2001, aged 87.
Only death had parted her from Tooti,
who buried Tove with
her parents Viktor and Ham
and her youngest brother Lars,
who had died the previous summer.
Tooti followed eight years later.
It's different coming now when
Tove and Tooti are not living here,
because it's not the same without them.
Because when they were
living here, it was full of life.
Across eight decades,
Tove Jansson lived life to the full.
Pioneering, gifted and courageous,
she always made time
for fun and laughter.
# It must have been moon glow
# That led me straight to you... #
Her legacy is still growing today,
bringing joy to new generations
of adults and children.
Through the Moomins, she is writing
absolutely from the heart.
She connected so easily with me,
across all those demographics
and those oceans
and those gaps of time,
because she put so much
of herself into those stories.
They're so honest,
they're so vulnerable.
There's nothing
calculated about them.
And that's always universal.
If you're really, really personal,
if you're really, really particular
to what's hurting you
or what's making you happy,
then you become universal.
"Then Toft began thinking of himself.
"His dream about
meeting the family again
"had become so enormous
that it made him feel tired.
"The whole of Moominvalley
had somehow become unreal.
"The house, the garden
and the river were nothing
"but a play of shadows on the screen.
"And Toft no longer knew what was real
"and what was only in his imagination."