One of the most beloved franchises in Norway is getting its third feature movie this month. Solan and Ludvig – Christmas in Flåklypa is based on the characters of Kjell Aukrust and the film promises to be both familiar and mysterious.
Kjell Aukrust (1920 – 2002) was a Norwegian author and illustrator who created numerous books, often with warm humour, and also the entire Pinchcliffe / Flåklypa universe, which the movie Pinchcliffe Grand Prix (1975) was based on; an unparallelled success in Norwegian cinema. An estimated 120% of Norway’s population has seen that film in theatres, a feat never reproduced by any film in any country. The stop-motion feature was voted “Best movie ever” in 2012 by the readers of major newspaper Aftenposten, and was followed by the traditionally animated Solan, Ludvig og Gurin med reverompa in 1998 (which was one of the first animated features in Norway). On November 8th, the third movie set in the same universe, albeit not a sequel, opens in theatres.
Solan and Ludvig – Christmas in Flåklypa is an adaption of the 2008 book of the same name by Harald Sommerin Simonnæs, with a script by Karsten Fullu. Christmas is approaching, and what Ludvig (Lambert in English versions) wants most of all is snow. But when Reodor (aka Theodore) invents the world’s most powerful snow gun, and it ends up in the hands of a newspaper editor who wants to set a new snow record, Solan (Sonny) and Ludvig have to straighten things out. On their own. Because Reodor has vanished, and outside, the blizzard is getting worse.
The 76 minute movie, which cost around 4 million dollar to make, has been shot not with CGI animation, but with classic stop-motion techniques, which was also used for the 1975 film. Director Rasmus A. Sivertsen explains that it was not an option to shoot the film using traditional animation, or CG images: -The Aukrust universe demands the structure that puppet animation provides. We considered animation first, but found that the graphics can quickly become outdated, he said to NRK. The movie has been planned since 2008 and was in production for over two years, and it took one animator a day to create 4 seconds of film. Five animators were working simultaneously, completing about 90 seconds of film per day and a total of 124.000 still images, with assistance from crew members that previously had worked on Tim Burton’s Frankenweenie. Four puppets were created for each characters, as filming took place on multiple sets at the same time. The Reodor puppet alone cost nearly 17.000 dollars to build, all by hand of course.
The main characters of the new film are the same as in Pinchcliffe, but Christmas in Flåklypa is unrelated to that movie except in terms of characters. The team has stayed true to Kjell Aukrust’s characters: -There is something very Norwegian about Kjell Aukrust’s universe. His characters can be seen in all people. We see ourselves in his creations. Solan is the eternal optimist and Ludvig is the scares one and fears everything that is dangerous, says Sivertsen to VG. While the first film was not a Christmas movie, the new movie is “a real Christmas adventure that conveys the nostalgia and warmth of Kjell Aukrust”. The team made it a deliberate choice to not look back to the two previous movies. In stead they chose to go back to the books and studied how he drew the characters, and also made sure that the voice actors used the same special dialects as the charactes had in the books. At the same time, Tim Burton is an idol for the producer, Cornelia Boysen. -Burton is good at creating an atmosphere, and we want to make Flåklypa both mysterious and cosy. The new times proves that [audiences] appreciate darker and broader humour, and it’s good that parents don’t get bored during the movie, she says to VG. The Kjell Aukrust Foundation gave the team free reigns to create whatever they wanted, something Sivertsen considers an honour.
Director Rasmus A. Sivertsen studied animation at Volda University College, graduating in 1995. He has since become an active figure in the Scandinavian animation industry. He has directed several commercials and five animated features, making him the most prolific animation director in Norway. He has also had experience as a director abroad, notably on the 26 episode HBO TV-series Lisa.
Voice actors in Christmas in Flåklypa (who recorded their parts before the puppets were filmed) include Trond Brænne (Reodor), Trond Høvik (Ludvig), Kari-Ann Grønsund (Solan), Kåre Conradi, Jon Brungot, Anders Bye and Toralv Maurstad.
Christmas in Flåklypa opens in theatres all over Norway on November 8th, and in Denmark on November 28th.