What happened to Hayao Miyazaki’s Pippi Longstocking film?

The big picture

  • Hayao Miyazaki and Isao Takahata once dreamed of adapting the Pippi Longstocking book series into a feature film before founding Studio Ghibli.
  • Miyazaki and Takahata were enthusiastic about the project and even flew to Sweden to meet with Astrid Lindgren, the author of the Pippi Longstocking books.
  • Unfortunately, Lindgren refused to see her, and without her permission the Pippi Longstocking film never happened. However, elements of Pippi’s inspiration can still be seen in her finished works.

In an alternate universe, the first animated adaptation of Astrid Lindgrenis the popular children’s character Pippi Longstocking could also have been one of the first Studio Ghibli films. Years before they founded the world-renowned animation studio and created one masterpiece after another in the medium, Hayao Miyazaki And Isao Takahata I once dreamed of customizing this Pippi Longstocking Book series into a feature-length film. (Since Ghibli wasn’t yet a twinkle in the duo’s eyes, this is Pippi The film would have technically been Studio Ghibli-adjacent). The two were so passionate about the idea that they created intricate, lovingly detailed works of art and explored locations in Lindgren’s native Sweden. But what seemed at first glance like a perfect combination – that of Hayao Miyazaki and a spirited heroine – never developed beyond this work of art. What happened to prevent a Studio Ghibli? Pippi Longstocking from flying?

What are the “Pippi Longstocking” books about?

Pippi Longstocking cartoon
Image via The Astrid Lindgren Company

Around the early 1970s, Hayao Miyazaki and Isao Takahata were experienced animators. The couple met during Takahata’s feature film debut The Great Adventure of Horus, Prince of the Sun in 1968. Each of them contributed to anime television series in the following years. Miyazaki only made his debut as a feature film director in the 1979s The Castle of Cagliostroand the duo would not co-found Ghibli with the producer Toshio Suzuki until 1985. The studio’s first film, Castle in the sky, arrived a year later. (Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind was produced by Topcraft animation studio, although it was honorably included in the Ghibli canon.)

Both this history and the future are linked to its failure Pippi Longstocking Project. In the late 1970s, both animators invested heavily in adapting Astrid Lindgren’s international best-selling series for the animation medium. Lindgren’s creation is a stubborn, bold and resourceful nine-year-old redhead who also happens to be the “strongest girl in the world.” As the daughter of a pirate captain, she lives on her own and has no interest in growing up. She prefers her established life full of adventure and also has no patience for the stupidities of adults. She is a girl who calls everything as she sees it, one who breaks social constraints and mocks social norms or just ignores them completely.

Despite her cheerfulness, Pippi is considerate, loving and wise for her age. As she ponders to herself“If you are very strong, you also have to be very kind.” Lindgren initially invented the character of Pippi for her daughter Karin before she wrote the published works. The first book with the title just now Pippi Longstockingpremiered in 1945. Since then, the series has sold millions of copies worldwide, is enchanting and has resonated with like-minded children and adults around the world.

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Why was Hayao Miyazaki interested in adapting Pippi Longstocking?

The walking castle
Image via Studio Ghibli

Cut to the aforementioned late 70s. At the time, Miyazaki and Takahata were working for another animation studio and began eagerly collaborating to explore the possibilities of an animated film Pippi Lockstocking Adjustment. Examples like kiki’s delivery service And Magically gone It took a few more years, but given Miyazaki’s admiration for complex girl heroes, it’s no wonder that Pippi particularly appealed to him. His love for the lively, cheerful character is evident in the concept art of the film that never was Available online courtesy of the Ghibli LiveJournal site.

The clearest and most reputable English source about the development of the film and its setting is Astrid Lindgren’s official websitewhich in turn credits translated observations The phantom Pippi Longstocking Book published by Studio Ghibli in 2014. According to both, it is the trio of Miyazaki, Takahata and an influential animator Yasuo Otsuka were passionate enough to fly to Sweden for a scheduled meeting with Lindgren to discuss the project and get her blessing (aka the rights to the series). While in Lindgren’s homeland, Miyazaki and Takahata scouted locations and were inspired by Sweden’s majestic atmosphere and scenic vistas, which they incorporated into the storyboards.

However, when the duo arrived in Stockholm for their scheduled meeting, they learned that Lindgren “couldn’t see them.” There was no opportunity to present her ideas and show Lindgren her art or show her obvious passion for the project. And without this chance, that of Miyazaki and Takahata Pippi Longstocking The film was dead in the water. As the character’s creator and overseer, nothing could happen without Lindgren’s permission.

Pippi Longstocking continued to influence Miyazaki’s career

Image via Studio Ghibli

To say the animators were discouraged seems to be an understatement. Astrid Lindgren’s website/The phantom Pippi Longstocking quotes Miyazaki as saying at a later date: “We invested an enormous amount of energy into doing what we set out to do. It exhausted me, so I don’t want to do it anymore. It’s just like that. You won’t succeed.” Animation if you don’t give it everything you’ve got.

Miyazaki blamed her agent Beta Film for the failure of their meeting, but also acknowledged that his and Takahata’s lack of exposure may have biased Lindgren against the project. He seemed to understand and sympathize with Lindgren’s point of view. As previously mentioned, Studio Ghibli did not yet exist, and while Miyazaki and Takahata had years of experience in the anime medium, they were far from the globally recognized names they had become thanks to critical and commercial hits such as: My neighbor Totoro And Grave of the Fireflies, respectively. “It was pretty obvious,” Miyazaki said. “You don’t just meet someone who suddenly shows up somewhere in Asia and says, ‘I want to make a cartoon out of your book’.”

Any animated adaptation might have been a lost cause, regardless of who approached Lindgren, with or without references. The author was “fundamentally against” Pippi Longstocking reaches film or television screens in animated form. Various live-action adaptations have been made as early as 1949, but it took decades for Lindgren to make it possible for everyone to try their hand at animation. Svensk Filmindustri, a joint Canadian-German-Swedish animation studio, produced the 1997 film Pippi Longstocking A television series followed with two seasons and a total of 26 episodes. According to Lindgren’s website, “she was not particularly pleased with the outcome.” At this point, the reasons Lindgren may have given for her criticism and previous reticence are unclear, as is whether she directly denied Hayao Miyazaki and Isao Takahata or simply refused to see her.

Although Miyazaki never got around to pursuing the project that was much of his passion in the 1970s, elements of it remain Pippi Longstocking and their inspiration lives on in his and Takahata’s finished works. The protagonist of the film directed by Takahata Panda! Go, Panda! Short film wears two red pigtails, similar to Pippi. Miyazaki modeled the city of Koriko kiki’s delivery service The largest island in Swedish territory after Gotland. Looking back on the Pippi In the concept art, Miyazaki’s style is clearly recognizable and lovingly reproduced. Such a heroine would have fit right in with Miyazaki’s personal creations. Unfortunately, such a combination should not be, but there is no doubt about it Pippi Longstocking continued to influence one of film’s greatest directors in subtle but meaningful ways.

Dustin Huang

Dustin Huang is a 24ssports U.S. News Reporter based in London. His focus is on U.S. politics and the environment. He has covered climate change extensively, as well as healthcare and crime. Dustin Huang joined 24ssports in 2021 from the Daily Express and previously worked for Chemist and Druggist and the Jewish Chronicle. He is a graduate of Cambridge University. Languages: English. You can get in touch with me by emailing: dustinhuang@24ssports.com.

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