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I'm In A Glass Case of Emotion

Concept Art From the Miyazaki Pippi Longstocking Movie That Could Have Been

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Pippi Longstocking, that freckle-faced redhead girl you oughta know, is very close to my heart. I dressed up as her one year for Halloween. Pipe cleaners in my pigtails. That costume was rad (aren’t I adorable?). Anyway, all this is to say that my hair ears perked up when I read about how Hayao Miyazaki wanted to make a Pippi movie back in 1971. Only he didn’t get to, because creator Astrid Lindgren was all “Thanks, but no thanks.”

The Miyazaki and Studio GHBLI Livejournal has a whole slew of concept art for the might-have-been film. Look and be sad.

(via: io9)

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  • Helene Fosse

    Astrid Lindgren is one of my absolute favorite children books author, but I really, really dislike her decision of turning down this offer from Miyazaki. It would’ve been so amazing!

  • Anonymous

    (aren’t I adorable?) – i’ve submitted that pic to both oxford and m-w to be included next to the word in future editions of their tomes.

  • Anonymous

    I suspect that her reticence was based more on the fact that she didn’t know who he was. I dare say if this was floated again (and this release of the pics may well be step one in that campaign) the response would be quite different.

    There’ve been some unrepentantly terrible adaptations of Pippi over the years, more the recent ones. But the idea of Miyazaki, he of the so magnificent strong female characters, getting to tromp around villa villekulla makes my heart weep at the saddest words of tongue or pen.

  • Shauni Farella

    It was the same with Earthsea unfortunately. Guin assumed Miyazaki was just some half baked merchant of bad kids films, and by the time she relented the film was passed on to Miyazaki’s son instead.

  • Camille Monae

    My mom and sister can attest to the fact that this movie was one of the five on regular rotation at my house. Me singing the theme song still causes eye-rolls and retching sounds.

  • Anonymous

    Except that with “The Wind Rises” having been released, Miyazaki has now retired. So if the response were different now—as with Earthsea—it would be passed on to someone else at Ghibli to do, rather than Miyazaki. :(

  • Ryan Colson

    It’s one stocking.. not Longstockings. :/

  • Rebecca Pahle

    My childhood was a lie. Thanks for the heads-up.

  • Anonymous

    She also said “no” to Disney. Which is great because Pippi is European (or more specific: Swedish) not American nor Asian! And I think she is best remembered through this beautiful playful Swedish TV series from the 60s. That’s the way Pippi is and that’s the way she should be remembered. (Forget that US-TV-Episode from the early 60s or the dreadful Anakin reimagination from the 80s!)

    But didn’t Miyazaki did a short movie called “The little Panda” or so in the 70s that has a little girl in it that ressembles “his” Pippi to quite some degree?

  • Hannele Kormano

    We watched it in Finnish as a kid :) o/> Siella on Peppi Pitkatossu, hopsula heisula hopsan saa.. o/>

  • Anonymous

    Also – Lindgren passed away in 2002. Leaving an Astrid-shaped whole in my world.
    Much like the author of Mary Poppins, Lindgren was very hesitant to let her stories be adapted to film by any other than her country men. And she wasn’t that fond of animation at all, but prefered live action. It wasn’t until late in life that she relented on Pippi, Karlsson on the roof etc. Usually with rather uninspired results.
    Miyazaki’s drawings are amazing though. I do wish she would have given him a chance.

    In fact, some of the city scenery from Kiki’s express is actually lifted from Stockholm. Which I think is Miyazaki’s homage to Astrid, as she lived there.

  • spoon

    I think Astrid Lindgren left much of the business advice to other ppl, who really didn’t know anything about movies etc. That’s why most of the non-swedish adaptions of her works are so terrible.

  • Herbert West

    Are you saying that only Euros can do justice to Euro characters? Because that’s so much BS I can’t even .

  • Anonymous

    Different cultures have different attitudes to things. Just think of what Disney has done to turn Brother Grimm stories into family-friendly fare! And American publishing houses had already problems with Pippi running around in her undergarment and that stocking !

    Pippi is – still after so many decades – a very provocative character in children literature, actually calling out for disobedience against parental rule and views what a child is allowed to do or to be. Can’t see American filmmakers do sth. like that, for Asian societies even less. Even though, Miyazaki’s take could have been an exception, I’m not sure in 1971!

  • Saraquill

    Brothers Grimm tales were Bowdlerized well before Disney got its hands on them. Heck, the Grimms tidied up a lot of the stories they collected once they learned that they were being read to kinds.

  • Anonymous

    “I am Pippi Longstocking
    if you say it fast, it’s funny
    Pippi, Pippi Longstocking
    how I love my happy name.”
    From memory, need I add.

  • DarthLocke4

    Clearly he took his Pippin for his female character in Panda! Go Panda! (which is also similar to Dola as well)

  • DarthLocke4

    Yeah! “Panda! Go Panda!”!_Go,_Panda!

  • Ruby S.

    Yes, Mimiko in “Panda! Go Panda!” Has the same giant red braids and is also fairly Pippi-esque in some other ways like being supernaturally brave an strong.

  • spoon

    I would go even further and say that most of Astrid Lindgrens work must more or less be understood in a swedish context. E.g. in one of the Pippi books, it’s says Pippis father is a “negroe king” (“neger kung” swedish translation). Pippis father is white. It’s not with the intent to be racist, but it displays a somewhat derogatory/colonial attitude against black ppl. That thing is nowadays controversial in Sweden, but public libraries still have it. Think of the implications if Disney would have that in a movie or any artistic work.

  • Herbert West

    You’re mixing things up, there.

    It’s not because Disney is american that they do things the way they do them, it’s because it’s Disney. It’s not their nationality that decides how they adapt the work, it’s their interests and the House of Mouse’s company culture.

    And children rebelling against authority and parents not happening in American media? Seriously? It’s been a staple of culture in North America for well over a century. Tom Sawyer, anyone?

  • Herbert West

    I fail to see how that means “outsiders” cannot properly adapt it. Tintin was adapted by Spielberg and Jackson, they didn’t have to deal with the racism found in some of the storylines.

  • spoon

    To me Spielberg/Jackson movie was an awful americanised adaptation, proving my point. The “racism” in Pippi is just one of many examples and I chose it because I thought that one was the most easily understood.

    A more complex underlying theme in the Pippi books are Lindgren’s views on children’s rights in society, how to raise children, the perspective of children etc. Those views are closely related to the societal discussion in sweden at the time. In some countries they toned down or omitted some of Pippis antics because they didn’t understand this.

    If you look at the 70′s swedish tv adaptation and compare it to the animated series and the later (american/canadian?) movie I think you get the point.

  • Herbert West

    Tintin wasn’t Americanized. It just wasn’t in the “ligne claire” style of the books – and it was in action. If there is a fault then it lies in the translation from graphic novel to animated film – not in the script.

    I’ve grown up with the Nilsson-Pippi from the 70s (as I live in Quebec, it was dubbed in France, but as I’ve learned later on, there isn’t much that is lost in translation), and nothing I saw could not have been made in another country. It’s all in whose hands in falls. That the later US adaptations were different is not because they were American; it’s because the management and producers (and ABC, etc) went for different angles, no doubt for purely business-related reasons.

    It’s not the nationality that makes a film, it’s the director, the producer, the writer, the photographer, etc. They can make something that is true-to-the-source, or they can deviate and adapt. To claim that you “get it” just because you’re from the same country as the writer is, I’ll say it again, BS. Social, historical, political contexts? It can all be explained, researched, and understood by anyone who puts the amount of effort needed into it.

  • spoon

    So you agree there are different emphasizes in the adaptations and those are for the most part based on what is selling? As I see it, an american movie production will try to cater to american preferences, those preferences are based on culture, history etc. So why would a producer or director try to cater to a swedish perspective when they make it for the US market?

    And there are cultural differences that are hard to overcome. E.g. a couple of years ago an italian tourist was prosecuted in sweden because he was seen hitting his son. (Parental corporal punishment is illegal in Sweden.) When italian media found out about this, they all laughed about the “crazy” swedish laws and the “insane” way of raising children in Sweden. Swedish media on the other hand presented the italian way of raising children as reactionary, barbaric, cruel etc.

    Wouldn’t ppl from Italy and Sweden have very different ways of interpreting books about Pippi? Wouldn’t Astrid
    Lindgren views on childcare/childrens rights, which is a big theme in Pippi, be a real a hard sell in Italy? In a similar way I think there exist thematic, stylistic and cultural differences between US and Sweden, which isn’t translating well when it comes to american cinema. To me the non-Swedish adaptations of Pippi is a proof of that.

  • Anonymous

    I think that cultural (and temporal) context is crucial to understanding the viewpoint of the author, but I don’t think that the author’s viewpoint is the only way to enjoy a work of art.

    I also don’t think you need to be of that culture to understand or reproduce that culture’s viewpoint (if you have done a sensitive and thorough enough investigation). You yourself are able to compassionately portray both Italian and Swedish views on corporate punishment, for a minor example. Also for all those aruging that those within a culture know that culture best, culture itself does change over time. I don’t think that even German cinema would make Der Struweelpeter for kids these days. This is all to say that I believe that American, Japanese, Brazilian or Swedish film makers *can* make a film from the viewpoint of Lindgren–but not necessarily that they will.

    Which brings me to my second point, that this is all taking into account that best reproductions are all about reproducing the original artwork as close as possible. I think though that there can be value for a new perspective – like the Broadway version of “Wicked” (vs the original book or the source material, Wizard of Oz). It doesn’t replace the original, but it can add to it (or, it can also be a sub-par adaption for a number of reasons).

    Clearly the changes done by the American film makers haven’t endeared you to exporting Pippi. But I wonder what film would have been made in Miyazaki’s hands…

  • Ryan Colson

    No prob!