Helsingin Sanomat

Björk - Moomin fan since childhood

I read that Tove Jansson’s book Comet in Moominland was based on fear of the atomic bomb. I remember from my childhood in the 1970s the drills, in which they taught us in school to dive under a table if the bomb comes down”, says Björk.

The Icelandic music star came to Finland because she had composed the theme song for the film Moomins and the Comet Chase. During the weekend she visited the Pellinge archipelago, where Tove Jansson herself spent her summers. On Monday, Björk attended a special screening of the movie at Helsinki’s Tennispalatsi.

In the islands the sea was close by and the nature was rugged in much the same way that it is in Iceland. It was easy to identify with it. In recent times I have been exploring Iceland with my new jeep, and I have developed drinks from the herbs that I have collected, mixed with vodka or juices

, Björk says.

Sounds like a very Moomin type of thing to do. Björk herself would be a very suitable figure for Moominvalley ; she seems to be slightly shy, just like many of the small creatures who have sought refuge there.

As a child I liked Snufkin the most, but now as an adult, I am finding my characteristics both in both Moominmamma and Moominpappa. Anyone can find different sides in all of the Moomin characters, varying according to the state of mind.

In spite of the sunny atmosphere of the visit, Björk emphasises that for her, the Moomins were never simply cute.

There has always been a feeling of menace in the world of the Moomins. Tove Jansson did not soften the world too much for children. The traditional role of fairy tales is to prepare children for the world, to warn of its dangers. In the Moomins, fantasy links up naturally with everyday matters.

Björk, who was born in 1965, learned to know the Moomins during a childhood that was overshadowed by fear of the atomic bomb. She says that at the time, Iceland favoured Nordic children’s literature - the Moomins, as well as Astrid Lindgren’s Pippi Longstocking. Walt Disney was largely unknown.

The worlds created by Tove Jansson and Astrid Lindgren the same kind of freedom and rebellion against limitations imposed by society. Each one of the Moomin characters is of equal value, and they are allowed to be as eccentric as they like.

The Moomins were very important for me, and I read them to my own children as well. Children who have grown up with the Moomins have become different from the previous generations. There are undoubtedly other changes that have caused that, but the Moomins reflect them well.

More recently Björk has been reading books written by Tove Jansson for adults, and has acquainted herself with Moomin comic strips. She says that she likes the comics, because they are written for more mature readers than the books were.

Björk is often asked to write music for movies, and she says that she turns down 90 per cent of the requests, because she needs time to work on her own music.

One movie project that she rejected was Lord of the Rings, whose mythology seemed alien to her.

There is something Christian about it. I certainly admire Christian mythology as well, but I am more of a pagan. Americans look at the rest of the world as outsiders, seeing it as exotic myths. This attitude was apparent in the Lord of the Rings as well.

However, the Moomins felt familiar. “And the Moomins of Tove Jansson are some of the world’s best children’s culture. Only the animations of Hayao Miyazaki, Princess Mononoke and Spirited Away reach the same level. That is why I agreed to this project”, Björk emphasises.

She wrote the theme song even though she had a project of her own to work on, which might be ready sometime next year.

Björk came to Finland to talk about The Comet Song even though she grants interviews sparingly. The lyrics were by her colleague Sjón, whom she knew already from the days of the band Sugarcubes.

At the time I was toying around with flutes quite a bit, and I mixed them with electronic sounds. The atmosphere seemed to be appropriate for the Moomins, where there has always been something bleak and dark, almost mystical. I wasn’t thinking in terms of nationalities, but it got a northern tone.

publié dans Helsingin Sanomat - 03.08.2010

 

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