DVD Movie Review | Moomins on the Riviera (Lights, Camera, Action!)

By Freda Cooper 27.09.2015

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Moomins On The Riviera (UK Rating: U)

The Moomins? Children of the '80s might remember them from the TV, although they were overshadowed by the home-produced Bagpuss and Oliver Postgate's The Clangers. Actually, they had been around since the late 1940s and 1950s, when they found international success in a cartoon strip and then a series of books, yet their first venture onto the big screen, and now DVD, comes exactly one hundred years since the birth of their creator, Tove Jansson.
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Moomins on the Riviera, released this week on DVD, sees the Moomin family - Moominpapa, Moominmama, Moomin, and Snork Maiden - deciding to leave behind their blissfully carefree lives in Moominvalley and take off for a holiday on the French Riviera. It is a world away from their simple home, and their encounters with film stars, high society and, of course, the trappings of wealth, turn out to be something of a life lesson.

Jansson's comic strips and original drawings are used extensively throughout the film and that's what makes it truly special. There is simply nothing else like it around, either in cinemas or on DVD. It's not in 3D, nor is it digital - it is just beautifully hand drawn with glorious simplicity and delicacy.  Take the colour palettes, for instance. The Riviera itself is shown in shades of orange and yellow, while Moominvalley is greens and blues. It doesn't get simpler, or more effective, than that.

Also, the animation and main theme go beautifully hand-in-hand. It is all about the nature of real happiness and appreciating the smaller, more important things in life. If that sounds a touch superficial, there is a little more to it, with moments of satirical comment on human nature and inequality. Snork Maiden's idol, actress Audrey Glamour (pronounced Glam-oor), hardly notices the female Moomin and treats her with ill-disguised contempt. Her playboy boyfriend, Clark Tresco, is equally false, flattering Snork Maiden but only because he thinks she comes from a wealthy family. Theirs is a world of artifice, and the complete opposite of life in Moominvalley.

This is very much a family film, so how will children of today take to it? In all honesty, the quirky, low-key humour will probably go straight over their heads, appealing instead to the adults. However, they can't fail to be enchanted by the beautiful images, as well as the magical Moomins themselves. The move from big screen to small does the film no harm either: if anything, it strengthens the "simple pleasures" idea at its heart.

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Rated 8 out of 10

Great - Silver Award

Rated 8 out of 10
Moomins on the Riviera will appeal directly to parents who remember the characters from their own childhood, a pleasure they can pass on to their own youngsters. The film's refreshing simplicity and delicate, almost naïve, style makes it stand out from the other animations on offer. That doesn't mean it's necessarily better, just delightfully different.

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