Spielberg’s ‘Adventures of Tintin’: Catch up with a globetrotter

Nov. 03, 2011 | 4:45 p.m.

Captain Haddock, left, played by Andy Serkis, and Tintin, played by Jamie Bell, in "The Adventures of Tintin." (Paramount Pictures / Columbia Pictures)

Thompson, left, played by Simon Pegg, and Thomson, right, played by Nick Frost, escort Silk, center, played by Toby Jones, to his apartment in "The Adventures of Tintin." (Paramount Pictures / Columbia Pictures)

Captain Haddock, left, played by Andy Serkis, and Tintin, played by Jamie Bell, in "The Adventures of Tintin." (Paramount Pictures / Columbia Pictures)

Captain Haddock, left, played by Andy Serkis, and Tintin, played by Jamie Bell, in "The Adventures of Tintin." (Paramount Pictures / Columbia Pictures)

Tintin, left, played by Jamie Bell, Captain Haddock, played by Andy Serkis, and Snowy await rescue in "The Adventures of Tintin." (Paramount Pictures / Columbia Pictures)

Tintin, left, played by Jamie Bell, Captain Haddock, played by Andy Serkis, and Snowy in "The Adventures of Tintin." (Paramount Pictures / Columbia Pictures)

Captain Haddock, left, played by Andy Serkis, and Tintin, played by Jamie Bell, and Snowy in "The Adventures of Tintin." (Paramount Pictures / Columbia Pictures)

An illustration from the original book "The Adventures of Tintin" shows Captain Haddock, Tintin and Snowy. (© 1955 by Casterman)

The Los Angeles Times Holiday Sneaks issue runs Sunday. Here’s an early look at one of the stories, a primer for Steven Spielberg’s “The Adventures of Tintin.”

To many Europeans, Tintin is as familiar a boy adventurer as Harry Potter or Spider-Man. But most American audiences will get their introduction to the character when Steven Spielberg’s “The Adventures of Tintin” hits U.S. theaters Dec. 21.

Created as a newspaper comic strip in 1929 by the Belgian artist Georges Rémi, who wrote under the pen name Hergé, Tintin’s stories have been translated into some 60 languages, generating sales of more than 200 million books. Hergé’s work first attracted Spielberg’s attention in 1981, after European critics likened the globe-trotting plot of the director’s “Raiders of the Lost Ark” to a Tintin tale. Spielberg later acquired Tintin’s rights from Hergé’s widow, but it took nearly 30 years for the film to come to fruition under Spielberg’s direction and with the producing help of fellow Tintinologist Peter Jackson.

Shot with the same motion-capture filmmaking technique James Cameron used for “Avatar,” Spielberg’s Tintin retains much of Hergé’s distinctive graphic style, with its bright colors and bold lines. The script, by Steven Moffat, Edgar Wright and Joe Cornish, takes its story from the 11th Tintin book, “The Secret of the Unicorn,” which sees Tintin searching for clues to the location of a sunken treasure.

For the uninitiated, here’s a quick guide to some of the storied series’ crucial characters:

Tintin, played by Jamie Bell in the film, is a driven young reporter with a distinctive quiff hairstyle and an enviable job — it appears he never writes an article but instead travels the world in pursuit of adventure and solving crimes. Like many heroes, he’s something of a cipher, so the audience can see itself charging into the breach.

Captain Haddock (Andy Serkis), provides much of the series’ salt and humor as a heavy-drinking, fiery-tempered seaman with a Scottish brogue. When we first meet Haddock in the film, “he’s a chaotic, self-pitying shipwreck of a human being,” Serkis said in an interview at San Diego’s Comic-Con in July. Haddock joins forces with Tintin to retrieve the clues, which only a real Haddock can decipher.

Snowy, a wholly animated character, is a white wire fox terrier who serves as Tintin’s sidekick and frequent rescuer. His chief virtues are loyalty and a tail-wagging cuteness.

– Rebecca Keegan
twitter.com/@thatrebecca

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Comments


7 Responses to Spielberg’s ‘Adventures of Tintin’: Catch up with a globetrotter

  1. David Martin says:

    I'm not sure I ever encountered the word "quiff" until the Tintin movie came near.

  2. Dimitri says:

    Spielberg… You're a genuine genious… You are the master of bringing the child in your audience! I can't wait for this movie to hit the theaters… I sense a new film franchise is being built.

  3. Warren says:

    I grew up with Tintin, I'm quite excited about this movie.

  4. Jeffrey says:

    I'm a Tintin fan of many years. Saw the movie at a preview last weekend. It will not disappoint the true Tintin fan — and bound to inspire many new Tintin fans. Wonderful and classic storytelling and character portrayal. A joyful mix of the thrill of engaging adventure and belly laughs resulting from many clever, comedic moments. Great, fun work! Very well done!

  5. Jonas says:

    "Spielberg’s Tintin retains much of Hergé’s distinctive graphic style, with its bright colors and bold lines."

    Sorry, but that's crap. The point about Herge's images is that they are SIMPLE and UNSPECTACULAR. Spielberg's movie is the exact opposite, a over-the-top action flick for teenage boys who cannot sit still unless there's something exploding on the screen.

    • nick says:

      WRONG!!! Herge's "ligne clair" style of drawing is most spectacular. As an illustrator, I find the breadth of his work over the years, and the detail crammed into his frames, especially in the middle years, simply staggering.

      Unspectacular? Are we talking about the same Herge/Tintin?

  6. nick says:

    Tintin (and Asterix, but I was more a Tintin fan) helped me learn to read. It's Indiana Jones "Boys Own" sort of stuff. Spielberg (and Jackson) are the team to do it. They understand the genre. It's not an American story – It has guns, but doesn't leave a bodycount.

    Anyone else directing would give in to the American lust for violence on screen, and ironically kill the movie instead. PS – no love interest either, so no need to add one (I hope) and make it an even cornier failure..

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