Barbican Film: ‘Moomins and the Comet Chase’

Moomins and the Comet Chase (2010) is a whimsical tale of adventure and fantasy that will capture the imagination of children and big kids everywhere. With a fantastic cast that includes Swedish father and son duo Stellen and Alexander Skarsgård, as well as Peter Stormare, Tove Jannson’s wonderful characters really do come to life.

The story, based on Jannson’s original novel is narrated by the legendary Max von Sydow and sees Moomin (Alexander Skarsgård) awake one day to find that everything is grey, including the trees, the river, the sky, and even Moominhouse. Unaware of what is taking place, he goes to see the wise Muskrat (Terrence Scammell) who tells him that this is the way the earth looks when a terrible disaster looms. In search of more answers, Moomin and his beloved friends head off on a perilous adventure to save the idyllic Moominvalley.

Tove Jannson’s original Moomin tales have always been imbued with issues of love, loss, the struggles of everyday life and the importance of family and friendship, but the Moomins also appeals to its fans because of its ability to cover difficult issues with a unique, childlike innocence.

Such surprising complexity wrapped up in this beautifully simplistic universe has enabled the Moomins to resonate with the experiences children and adults have of their own world in a way that can educate younger fans, whilst being admired by more mature audiences. However, Moomins and the Comet Chase is, at heart, a feature film geared towards young children (ideally aged 4 and above) that upholds all of the usual ideals and values that have made the Moomins universally successful.

Aesthetically, the film looks fantastic. Its use of stop-motion animation and beautiful colour schemes creates a delightful backdrop for a tale of youthful curiosity, which also exposes – in the most gentlest of fashions –  the fragility of life, and the importance of loved ones. Young audiences will marvel at the exquisite colours and fantastical characters presented by director Maria Lindberg’s visual realisation of Tove Jannson’s wonderful world, whilst adults will admire the manner in which the story, plot and dialogue imparts its nevertheless mature themes. Moomins and the Comet Chase is a film that has clearly been handled with a lot of love and attention, and despite perhaps occasionally suffering from sedate pacing, is all the better for it. 

Russell Cook