Casting for the Tintin Movie has begun and we can be sure that The Secret of the Unicorn / Red Rackham’s Treasure will be the basis for one of the films at least. They are casting the Bird Brothers, Nestor, Sakharine (one of the people after the model ship), Aristides Silk (the pick pocket) and Red Rackham himself who are all in The Secret of the Unicorn. Mrs Finch (Tintin’s Landlady) and two kidnappers (presumably Allen & Ernie from the cast list) have a seen on page 35 of Secret of the Unicorn. Presumably Mr Crabtree is the market stall owner Tintin buy’s the ship from.
In the Crab With The Golden Claws, Mrs Finch makes an appearance plus there are Lt. Delacourt and Ahmed from the fort in Afghar (page 33). Omar Ben Salaad is the leader of the smugglers. The unnamed seaplane pilot & co-pilot are probably the ones who attack Tintin & Capt Haddock.
Some roles are new and not in the books. Barnaby (an American Interpol Inspector), Merrydew (a rival reporter) and Wetherbuck (Tintin’s Editor). Merrydew and Wetherbuck will possibly appear in multiple films so presumably they have been added to make Tintin’s world a bit more believable. Barnaby may be replacement for Bunji Kuraki, the Japanese police inspector who is kidnapped by the smugglers.
In The Crab With The Golden Claw, Tintin meets Captain Haddock for the first time and in The Secret of the Unicorn, the pair first meet Professor Calculus. By the end of Red Rackham’s Treasure, Captain Haddock owns Marlinspike Hall so this makes a nice development of characters across the films and nicely sets things up for any future films. It is still not clear if this is the cast and plot-lines for just the Jackson and Spielberg films or whether these will cover all three films.
Still, it looks like I was wrong about my predictions of which books would be made in to the films.
Belgium state prosecutors are investing the complaint of a Congolese that Tintin in the Congo contravenes the countries racism laws. Mbutu Mondondo Bienvenu, a political science student at the Université Libre de Bruxelles, said:
“This book should be banned. Belgian school children should not be exposed to this kind of racist commentary. It is propaganda for colonialism.”
See the Daily Telegraph for more background.
Association of Editorial Cartoonists
So someone noticed that Tintin in the Congo is racist.
Not bad, only seventy years after its publication the Commission for Racial Equality has commented on Tintin in the Congo. I expect to see a statement attacking the anti-Semitic nature of Mein Kampf soon. This is what the CRE had to say:
A hundred years ago it was common to see negative stereotypes of black people. Books contained images of ‘savages’, and some white people considered black people to be intellectually and socially inferior.
Most people would assume that those days are behind us, and that we now live in a more accepting society. Yet here we are in 2007 with high street book shops selling ‘Tintin In The Congo’. This book contains imagery and words of hideous racial prejudice, where the ‘savage natives’ look like monkeys and talk like imbeciles.
Whichever way you look at it, the content of this book is blatantly racist. High street shops, and indeed any shops, ought to think very carefully about whether they ought to be selling and displaying it.
Yes, it was written a long time ago, but this certainly does not make it acceptable. This is potentially highly offensive to a great number of people.
It beggars belief that in this day and age that any shop would think it acceptable to sell and display ‘Tintin In The Congo.’
The only place that it might be acceptable for this to be displayed would be in a museum, with a big sign saying ‘old fashioned, racist claptrap’.
I’m a white middle class anglo-saxon so avoid commenting on race issues because I know nothing about them but here the CRE has gone for a mindless, knee-jerk reaction. A reaction that is as ill-conceived as Daily Mail readers harping on about ‘Political Correctness Gone Mad’ whenever the government clamps down on genuine racism. The CRE want to ban the book because ‘potentially highly offensive to a great number of people’. Of course we would not find anything else that might offend a great number of people in book stores, such as religious tracts or pornography.
The biggest mistake is that the Commission for Racial Equality are missing the uplifting, anti-racist story of Herge’s own life. Born and brought up in a society that saw all non-whites as being sub-human Herge at first reflected those beliefs in his early works like Tintin and the Congo. However Herge’s eyes were opened by his friendship with the artist Chang Chong-jen. Ever since Tintin and the Blue Lotus Herge worked hard to depict the non-white peoples in a positive light. Rather than making stupid remarks about Tintin and the Congo the CRE should celibrate the life of Herge as an example of how we can all change and become more accepting of others.
If you can get to Lausanne this weekend, you are in for a treat.
Lausanne’s Festival de la Cité honors the 100th anniversary of the birth of Hergé, the Belgian comic book writer, while offering a wide selection of free concerts and shows.
Le Festival de la Cité returns to the Vaud capital this summer with 200 free artistic events over nine days. Starting July 6 the festival’s attractions range from concerts and theatre to contemporary dance and street arts. To mark the 100th anniversary of the birth of Hergé, the late Belgian creator of Tintin comic books, organizers are presenting a special two-day Tintin festival on July 7-8.
Twelve original sketches of Tintin will be on display in Lausanne’s museum of history (musée historique de Lausanne). A dozen cars of the type that appear in Hergé’s works will be on display at Place de la Riponne, while the Atlantic movie theatre will screen animated films featuring several of Tintin’s adventures, such as “The Mystery of the Golden Fleece” and “The Crab with the Golden Claws.”
Hopefully in the run up to the Tintin Movie we will see a lot of these exhibitions touring around the world so we can all see them.
Problems Facing the Tintin Movie
I love Tintin. Growing up with dyslexia meant that I always struggled with written words so discovering Tintin was revelation. The beautiful images and fast moving, boys-own style adventures made Tintin’s world real to me in a way that a book never could. Over the years I have revisited Tintin many times and got something new out of it each time but one of the things I’ve pick up is that Tintin isn’t written very well. Before I get ripped to shreds by rabid fans, I need to be clear about what is wrong with Herge’s writing and why this could result in some terrible films.
Tintin and Amazing Coincidences
I’ve got Secret of the Unicorn in front of me as an example. Tintin goes to the market where he meets Thomson and Thompson who are investigating a spate of thefts by pickpockets. Tintin spots the model Unicorn and decides to buy it for Captain Haddock. Just then not one, but two other people try to buy it. After fending off these other buyers, Tintin presents the ship to Captain Haddock who immediately recognises it as a model belonging to his ancestor. Adventures ensue as the other parties interested in the ship try and retrieve it and the clue it contains. Eventually the bad guys are arrested but two of the clues that were hidden inside the ship have been stolen. Fortunately these are recovered when Thomson & Thompson’s catch the pickpocket who had lifted the wallet carrying the clues.
This chain of coincidences stretches credibility. Its a large coincidence that Tintin would happen to buy a model ship sailed by Captain Haddock’s ancestor but one that can be swallowed. However that he buys it just before the two other interested parties also discover it purely by chance is stretching credibility. Add on the whole pick pocket angle and the coincidences become too large. Rather than build a credible, coherent plot, Herge’s has chosen to hang everything on a series of coincidences. This might be a deliberate and clever style of plot construction but it strikes me as bad or lazy writing that posses all sorts of problems for making a Tintin movie.
Tintin: The Next Harry Potter?
The Tintin movies are being made now because the first time, technology allows the film makers to create a real universe and not just an animated version of Herge’s art. This would not matter if it wasn’t for the success of the Harry Potter and the Narnia films. Studios have seen that creating a faithful, high quality adaptation of a children’s book can draw in lots of adults and not just those with kids. This poses the makers with two problems. Firstly they have to make a faithful adaptation of the books and secondly they have to make a good film that appeals to adults who aren’t not die-hard fans of the books. With the Harry Potter and Narnia films they achieved this but can it be done with Tintin?
I don’t think they can. What mainstream film’s plot is so dependent on coincidences as in The Secret of the Unicorn? None. Sure, in action sequences you see heros dive out of windows and just happen to land in a pile of boxes but that isn’t the same thing. Audiences accept that because it makes the film exciting and dynamic. Coincidences that drive the plot are something else entirely. This leaves the film makers two options. Change the plot and nature of Tintin (thus angering the fans) or just do a faithful adaptation (thus alienating the non-fans). Neither of these option will make a good film.
Once the film makers start altering Tintin to fit the big screen, as they must, I think the magic of Tintin will unravel. What makes the Tintin books so enjoyable is the farcical nature of the plots but I don’t think these will work on the big screen. Modern films, even children’s films, are relatively complex where as Tintin, despite the busy and detailed artwork, have a simplicity to them. To recreate the magic of Tintin on the big screen the makers of the Tintin movie have to get a square peg into a round whole. Jackson and Spielberg are great directors but this may be beyond even their talents.
Three Tintin Books to Become Movies
According to Variety, three books have been selected as the basis of the Tintin movies. But which three? The books were mostly written and set in the 1930’s to 1950’s and not many of them will update. Destination Moon and Explorers on the Moon seem pointless 40 years after Neil Armstrong first walked there. Many of the books have social or cultural aspects that are not popular nowadays such as The Blue Lotus which is heavily anti-Japanese and the Crab with the Golden Claws is about oil and the middle east. Other books just won’t work as popular films, e.g. The Castafiore Emerald in which nothing happens.
Here is my guesses at the three Tintin movies
- King Ottokar’s Sceptre – Has espionage, puzzles and Borduria, a Nazi-like country next door
- The Calculus Affair – Has all the main characters, secret technology, kidnapping features Borduria & Syldavia from King Ottokar’s Sceptre
- Tintin in Tibet – Features a strong storyline, daring feats, lucky escapes, and a child. My money is on Speilberg directing this one
According to FilmStew.com:
..there will be no honey bunny for Tintin in the first of three motion capture animation films now being planned for 2009 release by the formidable tandem of Peter Jackson and Steven Spielberg.
This according to an anonymous Moulinsart estate company source quoted in London’s The Times newspaper. Says he or she: “I’m sure the accountants in Hollywood would love some of that in there, but they can’t do it. We have approval over that just to make sure they don’t totally ruin it . . . But there is room for some artistic license.”
No Love Interest for Tintin