Tintin is one of the few areas in life where I can not, and probably will never be able to, remain impartial. Oh, I know the faults. There’s very little character depth, especially on the part of the boy-reporter Tintin. (We never see him working, even though technically he’s a reporter. And where does he get all the money?) The situations are largely improbable. Many of the stories, especially those involving non-European characters, are grossly typecast and positively racist, seen today.
But I can’t see them that way. Why? In a word: Adventure. Tintin is about adventure, and funny words, and taking me around the world (or, in the case of Explorers on the Moon, over the world) and introducing me to a host of culture. Tintin is where I first encountered Incans. I learned about turbans and quinine in Cigars of the Pharaoh, saw Arabic script in Land of Black Gold, delighted in Herge’s overthrowing of Chinese stereotypes in The Blue Lotus, and learned basic mountaineering in Tintin in Tibet (okay – it was super basic).
In other words, it is what it is. The two-dimensional drawings lack the shading and depth of other comics – but the detail! The colour! And geez, Captain Haddock’s wealth of vocabulary. I learnt heaps from that man.
Similarly, I’m not sure I can see Spielberg and Jackson’s motion-capture movie in an impartial light. I went to see it because I love Tintin and I accept its faults; I also trust Spielberg and Jackson. I was almost guaranteed to like it. And I wasn’t wrong.
S & J messed around with the plot, but the spirit of Tintin and Herge is very much alive and intact. Which means there’s very little character development. (Okay, none.) And there’s lots of action – sometimes, I have to admit, too much.
But the detail! And the colour! Visually, this film is stunning, and I didn’t even have to see it in 3D. And, of course, there’s the humour. The comics are incredibly funny, and the movie is no different. Things lag a bit at the beginning but pick up considerably once the drunk Captain Haddock (Andy Serkis) pops up.
So that’s my take. Have you seen it? Did/do you or your kids read Tintin?
- Jean AAR