Friday, 24 May 2019

Swedish Slow TV - The Surprises of Slow TV

The Great Moose Migration - Courtesy SVT
This is the first of two guest pieces about the Great Moose Migration Slow TV from SVT in Sweden. 

This piece is a personal reflection, which documents very nicely the surprises which Slow TV can bring: unexpected dramas, a cumulative narrative which becomes more compelling the more you stay with it, the fear of missing something special, the engagement with history, heritage and perceived national identity, experiencing the beauty of something otherwise hard to come by.

The second piece is more analytical and comparative, and can be read at this link.

Both show different perspectives and angles in enjoying and experiencing a well curated Slow TV broadcast.

Leelene Karlsson writes:

"As a fan of Slow TV since I first saw Hurtigruten minutt for minutt, I have longed for a Swedish version of Slow TV. I even once contacted SVT and asked them if they had any ideas for such a thing. They replied and denied. So I kept watching the Norwegian versions and thought of different things I wanted to be Swedish Slow TV. Then this winter / spring I stumbled across an article on social media telling me about "The Great Moose Migration". I jumped for joy. The first Swedish Slow TV, finally.

I think I didn't really watch it the first two or three days (I was at work and was tired I suppose). But when I first finally watched it, I was pleased with what I saw. I live just two and a half hour car drive from Kullberg, living in the same region I know the beauty of the nature here and Kullberg is very similar to lots of places where I live. Having the comfy feeling of Västernorrland nature and waiting anxious for the first moose to arrive was indeed exiting. 

The 17th Moose to swim - Courtesy SVT
A few years ago I had a walk in Finnskogen (Swedish / Norwegian forest land close to Torsby) and encountered up to 12 moose on my path. It was dawn and they are very active at that hour. I couldn't help but become a bit afraid of the gigantic creatures, some of which can grow up to 800 kg. That must be an animal taller than any of the actors who have played James Bond and mightier than anything else you've met in a forest. So a little phobia had almost grown inside of me. And frankly I have never really understood why this giant is the national animal and symbol of Sweden. I was in for a crash course in the why and the how of that story.

It turns out that for up to 9000 years the moose has been migrating at this spot in Kullberg. There are hunting spots visible to the archaeologist's eye all around the area. This means that there have probably been moose migrations for all these years. This leaves huge marks in the culture. Half of historical findings of foodstuff left by humans are bones coming from the moose here in Sweden. The history of Swedes and moose are therefore very old, not just the road signs that some Germans have nicked from roads in modern times. 

Courtesy SVT
Seeing the moose finally swim was a delight, my phobia turned into respect and soon love. The anguish of seeing a mother moose and her calf stepping out on thin ice to almost be trapped was a horrific, thrilling moment. I rooted for the mother and calf. 

I was sad when the ice shelf as big as three football fields cut off the fibre cables and prevented half the cameras from working. I could see the beauty in ice melting, birds coming back filling the air with song, laughing at the photo bombing reindeer with a single horn. Soon I got sore from hours of watching the show, feeling real sadness when I had to work and could not keep up with the moose. I went wild with happiness when other animals were caught on camera as well. 

A craving to go to Kullberg soon took place in my heart. One of my spare time activities is to be a bird watcher and I have sworn a silent oath now to do more of that and more mindfulness in nature. This latest Slow TV has really affected me much more that I ever thought was possible.

The general reactions to the show have also been very positive. Children have been watching it in school, elderly people have been more talkative and more social in their care homes. Many are the people who have understood that it is important to try to slow down in their own lives. Only a few reporters who live their lives far away from nature have been cynical. All in all I guess the reaction has been overwhelmingly good. 

It is hard for me to separate my own experiences, the facts of the nature itself and the reactions of others, when it comes to something like "The Great Moose Migration". It has been very nice to talk to others about a single topic and feel the community grow. Seeing the Facebook group that follows the show growing, adding to the experience and being part of something bigger than myself, something profoundly Swedish. Ahh, it has been so great! 

Courtesy SVT
For the first time I felt that we as a nation are proud of something that doesn't leave a foul taste in my mouth. This time the "nationalism" has been all positive and without the usual racism that always seems to pop up here in Sweden. And that in itself must be the best thing springing from this Slow TV show. If everything else fails, we can always go back to the camp fire, and the camp fire in Sweden is now, symbolically speaking, a moose standing on the river bank eating a twig before heading off for a swim across the Ångerman river. That is true beauty for us here in Sweden."

Many thanks to Leelene for sharing her experience of The Great Moose Migration. I'm pleased to share content from other fans gripped by the universe of Slow TV.

There's a Facebook fan group at "Vi som följer den stora älgvandringen!" - it's in Swedish but Facebook does a fair job at translating content. See also on Facebook: Slow TV Fans, Thinkers and Film Makers.

Slow Television - The Slow TV Blog

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