Friday, 8 January 2016

Slow TV weaves a spell for The Magic of Lapland

The Magic of Lapland - Lapin Lumo courtesy of Hidasta elämää
In 2012, Finnish broadcaster YLE did a themed evening which incorporated some Slow TV into its transmission. JuhannusJuna, The Midsummer Train was the journey from Helsinki to Rovaniemi during the time of the midnight sun, where (subject to cloud cover) everything is bathed in the golden glow of the never setting but very low sun.

In 2014, a further themed evening came on YLE with moments of Slow TV: Sauna Night. Anyone who's been to the Baltic area for a while will likely have spent time in an impossibly hot wooden cube, leaving after just a few minutes wondering how on earth the locals manage to stay in so long. Nevertheless, it's meant to be a very healthy experience.

Now, along with the BBC's All Aboard! The Sleigh Ride, which was two hours of Sami led reindeer and the planned live week long NRK Norwegian broadcast of reindeer migration, this Finnish Slow TV vibe combines with a lifestyle and well-being angle. Over the course of eight episodes it celebrates the Lapland landscape, and serves as a calming advert for the area's tourism, outdoor products, services and hotels. Indeed, one could suggest it was commercial Slow TV without the screaming penetration of adverts in the flow of media you're watching.

The Magic of Lapland - Lapin Lumo courtesy of Hidasta elämää
If one said, "Lapin Lumo", you might think of a glowing rabbit (leaning towards a French interpretation) or alternatively, a spell from Harry Potter. Lumos! Neither of these is correct, but stay with the idea of magic to get the notion of a place which could make you feel compelled to visit and yearn to return.

The page for Lapin Lumo reads,
"Lapin lumo (“the magic of Lapland”) is Finland’s first step towards the internationally successful Slow TV format. The series comprises of 8 episodes, taking us to different parts of Finnish Lapland, for instance to Kilpisjärvi and Saariselkä. The episodes take place in three seasons: summer, the autumn colours season known in Finnish as ruska, and winter. You are invited along to experience the breathtaking beauty of Lapland and the transitioning of nature from one season and shade to another." (More here).
Falling into the ambient TV aspect of Slow TV, similar to the Landscape TV channel, Lapin Lumo consists of quality landscape shots. High definition sweeping views with drones and helicopter views, fixed angles, tracking shots of people walking in the wilderness. If you've ever tried walking and filming before, getting a level of stability in the image can be very difficult; one assumes this must be some very good steadicam work.

The Magic of Lapland - Lapin Lumo courtesy of Hidasta elämää
In terms of its temporal dynamic, it is not the real time of usual Slow TV, but does have some longer segments before cutting. In this respect, it's reminiscent of the BBC's Slow TV broadcast, "The Dawn Chorus", which is not linear in its timeline but nevertheless has fantastic moments of calming, stilling real time visuals, and indeed the lesser known NRK series, Severin, springs to mind. 

Lapin Lumo's sound design is slightly different - there is a lot of the ambient background sounds of what is being shown but also moments of ambient, minimalist music. As someone who likes to listen to instrumental or ambient music in remote places or at bronze age and neolithic megalithic sites, I completely get this and reckon many others will, too. The music, scenery and vibe weave together to form an enveloping tapestry of sensory enjoyment.

The episodes are shared on a holistic lifestyle website, Hidasta elämää, which is putting Slow TV in the context of wider slowness, a more relaxed, organic way of life.

Hidasta elämää is a Finnish website and an online channel for comprehensive wellbeing, slow lifestyle, and spiritual growth. The name Hidasta elämää is an equivoque; it can be translated either as “Slow life” or as an imperative to “Slow down (your) life”.
So, Slow TV has been framed in an aspect of The Slow Movement. While Slow TV did not emerge from a conscious articulation of Slowness, it has found expression in that, with its name coming from a reference to Slow Food. So, whether you're wanting to watch slow paced themed montages of beautiful landscapes and outside activity with relaxation in front of crackling wood fires, or to sample the delights of The Magic of Lapland for prospective holidays (I've been doing both for some time - one day I'll get there!) - take in the films of Lapin Lumo.

The Magic of Lapland - Lapin Lumo courtesy of Hidasta elämää

Clips, photos and material related to the Lapin Lumo films are here on Facebook and can also be followed on Instagram. If you would like to see more of Hidasta elämää in English, follow this link. A dedicated Facebook page here in Finnish for lifestyle related discussions.  (Right click, translate in Google Chrome with give a loose sense of the meaning in most cases)

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