The Return of the Moomins
The Moomins are back -- and in 3-D. That's right: thanks to the latest digital advancements and the clamor for everything stereoscopic, Tove Jansson's big, white, fuzzy, whimsical trolls, which have taken Scandinavia and Japan by storm, are now primed for the big screen.
Moomins and the Comet Chase, produced by Tom Carpelan's Oy Filmkompaniet Alpha in Finland, premieres tonight at the Cannes Film Festival in 3-D (a Nordic first) with voice work by such Scandi stalwarts as Mads Mikkelsen, Max von Sydow, Helena Mattsson and the father-and-son team of Stellan and Alexander Skarsgard. Plus Moomins fan Bjork has written "The Comet Song," with an animated music video forthcoming.
However, the interesting thing about The Comet Chase is that it's actually a clever repurposing of the beloved '70s stop-motion series, which was a Polish/Austrian co-production with animation by award-winning Se-me-For Studios.
Carpelan, who had been eyeing Scandinavian distribution rights of the series for 20 years but was thwarted by copyright snafus until 2007, saw a great theatrical opportunity by re-cutting, restoring and converting into a stereoscopic feature.
According to the producer, the project now contains brand new stop-motion for the opening and closing credits (artist Antonia Ringbom) as well as minor CG enhancements by Undo Finland. The full digital restoration was done by Labfilm in Poland. The extensive 2-D to 3-D stereoscopic conversion, meanwhile, was produced by Stereoscape in Finland and QXD Japan in co-operation with Aalto University Helsinki and Waseda University Tokyo.
"Technically, there were restoration challenges because the original film elements were in bad condition, but also because of the layered process," Carpelan continues. "When the series was originally filmed, lighting was a problem because of the double glass layers casting bothersome shadows. We had to remove the shadows and did all kinds of tests so you wouldn't notice the refilling where the shadows were before. That was quite a task to make it look like the original animation."