Sunday, October 23, 2011

It's Tintin Time!

Originally Appears in Issue 8

Exciting escapades, nail-biting twists, a boy with an unhealthy obsession for his dog; The Adventures of Tintin comic had it all, and now we’ll be seeing our hero hitting the big screens in 3D this October. As kids we read along as Tintin travelled the world in his drive to thwart yet another scheming criminal bastard, assured that no story worthy of the front-page would be kept hidden from this star reporter for long, because Tintin kicked ass and took names.

The new movie looks to be promising with both Steven Spielberg and Peter Jackson behind the project. It gets even better, for the plot synthesises the stories behind three classic Tintin comics: The Crab with the Golden Claws, The Secret of the Unicorn, and Red Rackham’s Treasure.

The brainchild of Georges ‘HergĂ©’ Remi, a Belgian cartoonist, Tintin has a far darker past than many today realise. Remi, after all, was a well-known fascist sympathiser before and during the Second World War, and held some very controversial views. In 1943, for example, Tintin happily sought out Red Rackham’s Treasure in the pages of Le Soir, a collaborationist newspaper in Nazi-occupied Belgium. Moreover, the new movie opts to skip past the reporter’s trip to Africa where, in Tintin in the Congo, he infamously taught his ignorant colonial subjects about the virtues of their Belgian fatherland.

It is interesting then that Spielberg, of all people, came to arrive at the project. An American Jew and admirer of Remi’s work, the future director of Schindler’s List first came across Tintin’s adventures in the early 1980s, after a movie reviewer compared Raiders of the Lost Ark to one of his comics. Spielberg recognised the cartoonist’s artistic talent and the respect was mutual, according to Michael Farr, an author of several books on Tintin, who wrote that Remi “thought Spielberg was the only person who could ever do Tintin justice”.

It has been nearly three decades since the two men met in 1983 – a mere week before the cartoonist’s death – to discuss a potential movie project. The picture has been a long time coming, and judging by the recent trailer, The Secret of the Unicorn looks to enthral fans young and old – albeit in a politically correct fashion. --Simon Mee

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