Spielberg stated that using the mo-cap technology on The Adventures of Tintin “Made me more like a painter than ever before.” This is fitting as the comic books themselves have much to praise regarding the art work …
The most anticipated film I am looking forward to this Winter is Steven Spielberg and Peter Jackson’s The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn. The comic books written by Hergé I read as a child and Sarah (my girlfriend) is a huge fan too. She owns all of the comic books, Michael Farr’s fascinating overview of the series and a DVD of the Oscar-Nominated documentary Tintin et Moi by Anders Ostergaard. And a mug. And a badge. And a little model of Tintin which currently pokes out of a Russian doll on the top of the TV.
I am keen to ‘sell’ Tintin to the folks across the Atlantic and, by exclusively relying on the source material, I shall hopefully give you an indication as to why, in Europe – and indeed across the world – Tintin is so beloved.
Why did Spielberg choose The Secret of the Unicorn to adapt?
It’s all about Haddock, according to Peter Jackson. The Secret of the Unicorn details how Haddock’s ancestors were, like him, masters of the Sea. It shows a huge amount of backstory for Haddocks ancestry and, through mixing in a little detail regarding Haddock meeting Tintin (a sequence nabbed from the book prior – The Crab with the Golden Claws) they have the opportunity to add a bit more interest from the unlikely pairing of the two. There is also a little whiff of Pirates of the Carribbean as, to explain what is important about the Unicorn Ship, Red Rackham and Sir Francis Haddock, there is a flashback to a siege by pirates. Not to mention how, the whole plot of The Secret of the Unicorn is finding the treasure-map, whilst Rad Rackhams Treasure is all about finding the treasure itself.
Spielberg was first introduced to Tintin when he read a review for Raiders of the Losk Ark and it compared Indiana Jones to Tintin. It is easy to see why as both Indiana Jones and Tintin go through 20th Century History as they go on their adventures. Additionally, like Dr. Jones worked as a professor nine-to-five, Tintin is a journalist by day – and taking part in these adventures on the side.
Now Is The Time
The mo-cap technology is the perfect way to capture the creativity and colour of the comic books without holding back the film as exclusively animated. Even the comedy with Thompson and Thomson in the trailer shows how they want to keep the quirky, playful attitude from the comics and carry it over. Characters like Calculus do not feature in the trailer – and there is no evidence to suggest he will feature in the film (despite his character joining the ‘pack’ in Red Rackham’s Treasure) – but, the tone of the trailer shows that he would not be out of place in the world Jackson and Spielberg has created.
There are also better books. The Blue Lotus for example was the first book that really exploited the depth of culture that became prevalent in the series. Tintin in Tibet is incredibly revealing of Hergé as it uses the white snow that dominates the panels to represent the depression he was going through as he wrote the comic. The Castifiore Emerald is a small-scale who-done-it which departes from the usual Tintin codes-and-conventions. These two comics show that, in the first instance, The Secret of the Unicorn and Red Rackam’s Treasure are pure entertainment. Something to start the series off with a bang.
This could be a franchise that could run in the same manner as James Bond. There are 24 books available – some of which are ‘of their time’ with many racist slurs that would inevitably be adapted for cinema (Tintin in the Congo) whilst others were unfinished (Tintin and the Alph-Art). But, in the same way Fleming, merely from the titles, had a wealth of material (From Russia With Love, The Man with the Golden Gun, Thunderball), Tintin could be the future adventure-franchise. The adventures such as Explorer’s On The Moon and Land of the Black Gold – and the more mysterious The Seven Crystal Balls. With some purely shocking franchises running at the moment, we the audience only have ourselves to blame. Transformers, Pirates of the Carribbean and the tragic fourth installment of Indiana Jones – we need to rally behind this one property that has something different to offer – and a property that has taken a while to be created. The teaser trailer left a few people disillusioned but, as you watch the theatrical trailer now, you will see how brilliant this really could be. Hopefully Spielberg will re-establish his reputation by doing what he does best with Hergé’s creation.