Monday, December 26, 2011

The Adventures of Tintin

Belgian graphic designer Georges Prosper "Hergé" Remi (22 May 1907 – 3 March 1983) created the young, intrepid reporter Tintin (pronounced tan-tan, thank you) and the series of adventures which bear his name.

You know, there was a period during my childhood when my mother thought it would be a good idea to make family vacations out of my father's occasional international working excursions (he was in foreign exchange for Cleveland Trust) which brought me to England, Paris and Norway in the years 1977, 1978 and 1979. This comfy culture shock exposed me to Tintin, Rupert, Asterix and even the Smurfs years before my American contemporaries.

This explains my cosmopolitan world view, bizarre sense of humor, and my general sense of arrogance.

Did you know Inspector Thompson and Inspector Thomson are not brothers, let alone twins?
Tintin adventures stretched from 1929 to the mid-1960s though for me they always had a pre-war vibe. It makes perfect sense that Spielberg would choose to create a movie based out of this material, because the end-product is like Indiana Jones, only with a lot more reasonably acceptable slapstick. The CGI-effected performances make some of the more extreme physical violence a lot more funny and a lot less "Oh my GOD!"

What was most enjoyable for me was that the film plays like a Tintin novel, beginning with Tintin landing in the middle of a mystery, and progressing with great speed to a ship, to the middle of the ocean, to a desert to a non-specific Middle Eastern emirate ... it just goes and goes, no backstory, no Hollywood time wasted explaining who Tintin is, where he came from, even what paper he even works for. Just go-go-go.

And with the exception of an entire absence of tobacco products of any kind, its pretty damn faithful. Guns, whisky, blood ... and only one female character at all, the venerable Madame Castafiore. Tintin is a "boy's own" story, you want more girl characters, adapt something else.

For Christmas I got some of the new editions of Tintin, which are easier to hold but not to read (they are small) but include introductions to key characters which made leaping into what feels like an extended narrative much easier. Just reading half of Red Rackham's Treasure made my six year-old's idea of attending the movie much less fraught.

However, I will want to pick and choose which volumes to acquire or share with the kids, and not just because of the smoking or winking attitude towards Captain Haddock's obsession with drink. A number of them are pretty damn racist. Hergé famously had a world-view alteration from a Tchang Tchong-jen, a Chinese-born companion, which drove him to recreate most of his early work, especially the hideous Tintin in the Congo.

No comments:

Post a Comment