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FAQ - Is The Tintin Movie Going to Destroy Tintin Herge's Much Loved Comic Creation

Nov 5, 2007
The view of many is that a Tintin movie should never be made even though those behind the project argue they will make a true recreation of the Tintin ligne claire style of the adventure comic written by Tintin's creator Herge. Here is an argument to suggest a Tintin movie would never work as a Hollywood blockbuster.

I'm wondering whether the narrative style and the character of Tintin is well-suited with the way Hollywood films (especially children's/family films) are scripted in modern cinema. The problem for any Tintin movie is that Tintin lacks "back-story", i.e.: no relatives, no account for his lack of family, no psychosomatic "issues" about his lack of family, etc. Tintin is just a teenage reporter characterised in a world of adventure by often with his fox terrier companion Snowy but otherwise nothing but the clothes he stands up in, with strong qualities of allegiance, inventiveness, cheerfulness, doggedness and valour, but not much in the way of a unknown angst or thoughts and what makes Tintin, Tintin. I think Tintin's simple canvas character (harmonized by ease of the way he's sketched) is what allows Tintin's adventures to be so delightful to read, especially for families and children. He's a kind of standard, like the youthful hero in many a folk tale or myth: a hero whom a booklover can easily visualize themselves to be.

While this kind of youthful, straightforward, mysterious hero would fit well into the sort of movies that Herge would have been watching when he invented Tintin - the silent movies of Harold Lloyd, Buster Keaton, Charlie Chaplin, etc. Is it possible visualise it installed into the kind of movies Hollywood makes today? Look at the recent Disney Winnie the Pooh films, for instance, in which Tigger (being the only one of his kind) needs to go off and try to trace his Tigger roots, and Piglet needs to find his inner-hog or determine issues about being diminutive. Then take the recent film version of The Cat in the Hat where the two children seem to have been given psychological hang-ups and issues for the cat to psychoanalyze. The film most recently guilty was the terrible and redundant sequel, Jungle Book 2, in which Mowgli has to resolve his inner-conflict between his early life with Baloo and his new life with the human beings.

None of this psychoanalysis exists in the original adventures these films will be founded on. I've often questioned if the periodical meetings on a life-coaches's couch has grown to be such a regular part of life in LA that screenwriters and producers there basically can't visualize having a principal individual that doesn't need some sort of psychoanalysis as they make their way through a movie.

Some children's/family films handle psychological stuff well, such as The Incredibles or the Shrek films, but these tend to be films with original stories, rather than films adapted from earlier books. It's the shoe-horning of psychological issues into existing story bound characters who just don't necessitate it that seems so erroneous. But guessing that modern audiences have come to expect this, and that might be the central dilemma. Can Spielberg make a movie which preserves Tintin's down-to-earth character, but in a way that doesn't make the film seem two-dimensional to a modern audience?

Raiders of the Lost Ark suggests that Spielberg is capable of such a leap. Even though the central character, Indiana Jones, has a machismo, sexuality and sarcasm that would of course be quite a mistake for Tintin, he is at least a refreshingly straightforward and unexplained heroand a humble adventurer destined to do good deeds. Who is where he is, and does what he does, with little need for exhibition, justification or with any historical context.

However, the third Indiana Jones film, The Last Crusade - in which we see something of Indiana's childhood and in which Indiana exhausts a large amount of the movie get to the bottom of his issues with his father - advocates that Spielberg too has been drawn into the widespread Hollywood conviction that even archetypal adventurers need to spend some time on the analyst's couch.

It seems a lot of care that much about a Tintin film being made. If it's good, great, but surely Herge put more than enough movement into his ligne claire drawings anyhow, and more than enough filmic control into his adventure comics. The only positive for most people is that the new Tintin Movie introduces a whole new audience to a much loved character.
About the Author
Tintin movie debate is going to be very popular search topic as the Tintin movie draws near. Holly Franklin has been a big Tintin fan for a number of years. She is very much looking forward to the new Tintin movie trilogy due for release in 2009.
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