The New Adventures of Pippi Longstocking
- Ken Annakin
Astrid Lindgren was always opposed to the idea of letting Pippi be produced by filmmakers outside of Sweden. However, the American freelance producer Gary Mehlman succeeded in changing her mind. After Astrid met his two daughters (whose repeat views of the earlier Olle Hellbom films dubbed into English had inspired him to try and get the rights) in Stockholm in 1985 she gave the project her blessing.
The actor for the lead role, twelve-year-old Tami Erin, was chosen in 1986 from a huge number of auditions - more than 8000 people had applied from across the USA, Canada and the United Kingdom. Svensk Filmindustri (SF) co-produced the film, but did not invest their own money in it per se: their contribution was contractually stipulated by Astrid Lindgren in order to keep an eye on her Pippi and make sure she wasn’t misrepresented by the Americans.
In the film Pippi arrives in the small coastal town of ‘Rocksby’ in the company of Mr Nilsson and the horse, who in this film was called Alfonso. She moves into Villa Villekulla and befriends Tommy and Annika. They experience many adventures together, most of which are loosely based on episodes from the books or the earlier films.
Astrid Lindgren herself was not too keen on this adaptation:
“I actually never wanted to make any Pippi movie. The one you’re telling me about [The New Adventures…] … well, this fellow came all the way from America and said to me that they absolutely must make a film about Pippi. Because for American children, he told me, there’s only violence to watch and listen to and they needed to get used to seeing someone who was kind - and that’s why it had to be Pippi. And then I thought to myself, well if I can help combat the misery of violence in America then so be it. However, I later watched the film and it was so so terrible…”
(Interview in the magazine ‘Vi’, 1995, in connection with Pippi’s 50th jubilee)