The BBC has revealed plans for a special 2D animated adaptation of Sir Michael Morpurgo’s children’s story Mimi and the Mountain Dragon.
The production will premier this festive period as part of a wider literature focus on the BBC in 2019 – 2020.
The 25 minute story on BBC One will have an introduction from Morpurgo and will be narrated through classical music in an original score written by Oscar award-winning composer, Rachel Portman (The Little Prince). It will be performed by the BBC Philharmonic featuring the Hallé Choir and will be recorded at Media City UK, Salford.
Based on original illustrations by Emily Gravett and adapted for the screen by novelist, poet, and playwright, Owen Sheers, Mimi and the Mountain Dragon, is a story about a village that quakes in fear of the mighty Mountain Dragon. One winter, a shy little girl called Mimi finds a tiny baby dragon asleep in her family woodshed. Mimi takes the perilous journey through blizzard and darkness to return the baby dragon to her mother who all the villagers fear.
The newly animated film from Leopard Pictures and Factory started life when Jan Younghusband, head of commissioning for BBC Music TV, approached Morpurgo and asked him if he would write a children’s story that could be set to classical music for BBC television. Inspired by a trip to a village in Switzerland some years before, Morpurgo wrote Mimi and the Mountain Dragon which was published by Egmont in 2014 as a children’s book, with illustrations by Helen Stephens.
Morpurgo said: “Many years ago, in the Engadine Valley in Switzerland, I saw village children in red hats, cracking whips, ringing cowbells, banging drums, creating a great cacophony of noise, as they paraded up through the village. I asked why this was happening. They are driving away wicked spirits, I was told. So began my story of Mimi and the Mountain Dragon.
"And now, extraordinarily, wonderfully, this little story is being made into an animated film, by Leopard Pictures and Factory Create. And what a team BBC Music have put together. There is music by Oscar winning composer Rachel Portman, a script by Owen Sheers, the great Welsh poet (so he knows a thing or two about dragons!) and with magical drawings from the supremely talented Emily Gravett. I can’t wait to see it!”
Commissioned by head of BBC Music TV commissioning Jan Younghusband for BBC content director Charlotte Moore, the project is also supported by Alice Webb, director, BBC children’s and education, and will be executive produced by Leopard Chief creative officer Kristian Smith and Phil Chalk for BAFTA-winning studio Factory.
Moore said: “We’re delighted to be bringing this enchanting mix of music and storytelling to BBC One this Christmas. Sir Michael Morpurgo’s wonderful book will be perfectly complemented by the music of Rachel Portman, The BBC Philharmonic and the Hallé Choir- a real festive treat for all the family.”
Younghusband added: “At the BBC we have a proud heritage of finding new ways to introduce children to classical music, stretching right back to Benjamin Britten’s Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra, The BBC’s Ten Pieces project and now Mimi and the Mountain Dragon.
"It is an honour to work with Sir Michael Morpurgo, Rachel Portman, Owen Sheers, Emily Gravett, Leopard, Factory, The BBC Philharmonic and Halle Chorus to bring classical music to audiences everywhere with this film.”
Smith added: “Mimi and the Mountain Dragon is truly born of love. With countless awards and prizes each, author Sir Michael Morpurgo, composer Rachel Portman, writer Owen Sheers and illustrator Emily Gravett have united their exceptional and exquisite talents to create a timeless, magical story. How lucky am I to get to hang on their coat tails? We had the great privilege of partnering with a company I deeply admire in Factory, who are bringing the animation to life. This is a beautiful film, all set to Rachel’s phenomenal original music.”