Europe in the 1970s and 80s through the eyes of Tove Jansson
“Do not tire, never lose interest, never grow indifferent – lose your invaluable curiosity and you let yourself die. It’s as simple as that.”
Earlier this month I watched a rarely shown documentary via live stream. Entitled ‘Tove and Tooti in Europe,’ and based on Tove Jansson’s and her partner Tuulikki Pietilä’s bygone travel footage, the film was beamed to a global audience for the very first time, making the occasion incredibly exciting for fans of the late Finnish author and artist.
Introduced by James Zambra, Head of Design at www.tovejansson.com, the footage shows the couple on various trips through Europe between 1972 and 1993. It was recorded by Tuulikki Pietilä on Super 8 mm film and covers places like Paris, Venice, London, Madrid, Corsica and Dublin.
The accumulated material has been spliced together to create a moving, joyous, often poignant, travelogue, focusing on the partners’ unique perspective of exploring Europe – and it is one I immediately recognised from my own peregrinations during the 1980s. Beginning in Iceland in 1972, with views from a plane window, we share the artists’ delight in discovering the more offbeat corners of the continent. From the bars and theatres of Madrid to street musicians in Paris and (almost everywhere they went) yawning, stretching cats in doorways, graveyards and window boxes, the action is accompanied by the sounds of rolling waves, screaming swifts and background chatter.
In Corsica, where Tove developed bronchitis in 1975, we see old women hanging out their washing, children playing in the streets and bustling markets. In Ireland in 1982, we are treated to clips of a baby donkey, followed by scenes of a trawler setting out to sea loaded with empty creel baskets and of anti-British graffiti on buildings. We sometimes see Tove – always with a lit cigarette between her fingers – sitting outside cafes, frequently chatting with people she has met. Occasionally Tooti catches her own reflection in a mirror or shop window, though, this is infrequent, and it is always she behind the camera.
If you would like to be informed about future screenings of ‘Tove and Tooti in Europe’ and other similar documentaries, please follow tovejanssonofficial on Instagram. I would also encourage you to visit the wonderful new Tove Jansson website and explore the legacy and art of a woman affectionately known as Mother of the Moomins.
Images © Moomin Characters™ © Tove Jansson