Join 3,501 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


Spielberg's adventures of Hergé
February 3, 2013 11:40 AM   Subscribe

Everything you always wanted to know about The Adventures of Tintin
posted by Artw (25 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite

 
Matt Bird of Cockeyed Caravan has a great rundown of the fundamental problem at the heart of the cacophonous mess this movie turned out to be:
In the movie, it all falls apart: he buys the model for no reason, then turns down the offers of money for no reason, then follows the clues he finds in the model for no reason. We hear people say that he’s a reporter, but he never mentions it, and he’s not tracking down a story…in fact, his only motivation seems to be to get Haddock’s treasure for himself. But if he needs money so badly, why didn’t he just accept the fortune he was offered in the first scene??
posted by MrVisible at 11:57 AM on February 3, 2013


Every now and then you read something written by someone who is your bizarro-world opposite -- they not only admire things you think are terrible, but they admire them for the very reasons you find them terrible.
posted by George_Spiggott at 12:06 PM on February 3, 2013 [5 favorites]


My son was impressed by the Tintin movie, and I thought it was enjoyable and worth the ticket money. On the other hand, while I read the comics as a kid, returning to them as an adult has left me pretty unsatisfied - the narrative is linear, and the characters are two-dimensional (no pun intended). Not nearly as satisfying to return to as the Carl Barks Duck adventures.

So Tintin, as they say, is what it is.
posted by KokuRyu at 12:20 PM on February 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


Every now and then you read something written by someone who is your bizarro-world opposite

I don't see how it's bizarre. You've never had someone find something you admire terrible for the very reasons you admire them?
posted by FJT at 12:22 PM on February 3, 2013


The FPP article seems like a lot of pseudo-intellectualism, a lot of assertions and allusions that all rely on us buying into everything the author claims, nothing backed up, as the author rushes to make his next assertion. We're supposed to see intuitively the intrinsic rightness of everything he says, so if we approach it with a skeptical eye it falls apart.
posted by JHarris at 12:24 PM on February 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


I don't see how it's bizarre.

"Bizarro World" is a fictional place from dated Superman comics in which everything is the reverse of how it is on Earth, and its inhabitants are the opposite of their regular Earth counterparts and behave in very silly opposite ways, e.g. eating the peel and throwing the inner part of the banana away. In ordinary conversation it's a pop culture reference which means essentially "almost exaggeratedly opposite down to the finer details". The relationship to the word 'bizarre' in this context is indirect.
posted by George_Spiggott at 12:31 PM on February 3, 2013 [7 favorites]


The relationship to the word 'bizarre' in this context is indirect.

I know what Bizarro World means, but I'm still not sure why you use that term. Cause it sounds like you're saying the person is merely an opposite, but then in your definition of "Bizarro World" as a pop culture reference you're saying that it's an "almost exaggeratedly opposite down to finer details", which would make it an opposite AND a caricature.

And my point, as I was originally stating is, I don't see it as a caricature. I've encountered people all the time that have different tastes and aesthetics and these usually arise because, as you stated, they find things good that I find bad and vice versa.
posted by FJT at 12:54 PM on February 3, 2013


Analyzing Tin Tin is as intellectually satisfying as a psychological (or economic, or philosophical) analysis of why the Coyote chases the Roadrunner.

But dueling mega-cranes is just cool in the same way as dropping an anvil out of the sky.
posted by sammyo at 1:10 PM on February 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


Not sure Tintin really needs a reason to be an annoying nosey fucker - that's pretty much the definition of who Tintin is. You could do some awful Holywood style origin story with a character arc justifying it, but that would be dull.
posted by Artw at 1:15 PM on February 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


FWIW I very much enjoyed the piece.

I found it terribly distracting, at first, that the writer kept crediting specific images drawn directly from Hergé to Spielberg, but if you follow the perfetly accurate point that a film adaptation is an original and independent work, the crediting becomes at least comprehensible.

I thought the specific identification of themes that recur in Spielberg's body of work was great, and useful. The writer's baseline, though, seems to be the perspective that Spielberg's creative choices are always justified by his genius, when this is clearly not the case.

The one creative choice the writer calls into mild question is the crane-fight sequence:

"Why Sakharine would need to fight Haddock with something as absurdly complicated as a loading crane I have no idea..."

but then he falls all over himself with praise for the sequence anyway. The cranes, of course, are not canonical and can be fairly credited only to Spielberg.

So, while I can summon a justification for the critical tack employed here, the piece would have been strengthened if the writer had taken the time to at least read the primary source material for the story, seen mostly in The Red Sea Sharks, The Crab with the Golden Claws, and of course The Secret of the Unicorn and Red Rackham's Treasure, and been able to identify which images and themes are being borrowed by Spielberg. It would have been further strengthened if he knew that Hergé in his lifetime repeatedly (iirc) expressed the opinion that Spielberg would be an ideal directorial choice for an adaptation. That opinion was developed and issued at the height of Speilberg's prowess with the Indiana Jones pictures, but the choice seems reasonable even in hindsight, whether or not as a viewer you think it panned out in the end.

Hergé was clear in his disappointment with prior screen adaptations of his work, and if you've dug them up, you can see why. The earlier live action material is pedestrian and cheap looking, and the animated material looks very much like the graphic source material, but suffers greatly by comparison to the books, both in script choices and production value.

For the record, I have mixed feelings about the recent film. It was nowhere near as terrible as I had feared. The distinct and risky choice to set the whole thing in the Uncanny Valley actually turned out fine, for me. The direct set-piece lifts from the books were satisfying. Some of the Spielberg stuff was great, in particular that chase sequence the writer calls out.

Basically, once I set aside my desire to see a straight adaptation of material from the books, I enjoyed it. But for me, for sure, the books remain superior. Like Peanuts, they form a nuanced, layered work of art reflecting both consciously and unconsciously the mind and life experiences of their creator. For example, the overall narrative theme of the Unicorn books is the recovery of lost aristocratic heritage. Hergé's family, and possibly Hergé himslef, believed that he was an illegitimate scion of the Belgian royal family, and there is some evidence that this may have been informally acknowledged by the royal family itself, as Hergé was known to socialize with them in later years.

Haddock's lost heritage and Tintin's purity of will each reflect ideas concerning lost identity and the triumph of hidden strengths; it doesn't take too much squinting to see that Hergé's characters express a life arc similar to his own.
posted by mwhybark at 1:20 PM on February 3, 2013 [5 favorites]


Analyzing Tin Tin is as intellectually satisfying as a psychological (or economic, or philosophical) analysis of why the Coyote chases the Roadrunner.

Actually there's a good number of academic works dedicated to Tintin, including 3 (three) psychoanalytical studies. They take tintinology quite seriously here in Tintinland.
In unrelated news, it took me two decades to discover that a famous shot in Indiana Jones and the Last crusade is a direct quote of The Red Sea Sharks. Spielberg likes Tintin for sure.
posted by elgilito at 1:29 PM on February 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


From the article: There was never a time when there really were 15-year-old boys trotting the globe, solving mysteries and writing about their adventures.

O HAI I LOOKED UP TINTIN ON THE WIKIPEDIAS FOR YOU
Hergé may have also been inspired by a Danish boy scout and later actor Palle Huld, who was 15 years old when he travelled around the world and wrote Around the World in 44 days by Palle. In the book he describes his tour to the Soviet Union, America, China, and Africa, and about the dramatic adventures he experienced.

posted by Joe in Australia at 1:39 PM on February 3, 2013 [5 favorites]


... a psychological (or economic, or philosophical) analysis of why the Coyote chases the Roadrunner.

It's a derail, but I would love to see any of these. There's already a start on a legal analysis.
posted by benito.strauss at 2:08 PM on February 3, 2013


15-year-old boys trotting the globe, solving mysteries

Nowadays their parents drive them around the globe.
posted by George_Spiggott at 2:19 PM on February 3, 2013 [2 favorites]


The FPP article seems like a lot of pseudo-intellectualism, a lot of assertions and allusions that all rely on us buying into everything the author claims, nothing backed up, as the author rushes to make his next assertion. We're supposed to see intuitively the intrinsic rightness of everything he says, so if we approach it with a skeptical eye it falls apart.
posted by JHarris at 9:24 AM on February 3 [+] [!]


There are several assertions in this post that rely on my buying into what you claim, JHarris. My skeptical eye approaches!

I thought it was all pretty straightforward and sensible analysis actually - what did you think was unfounded?
posted by Sebmojo at 2:51 PM on February 3, 2013


In the movie, it all falls apart: he buys the model for no reason, then turns down the offers of money for no reason, then follows the clues he finds in the model for no reason. We hear people say that he’s a reporter, but he never mentions it, and he’s not tracking down a story…in fact, his only motivation seems to be to get Haddock’s treasure for himself. But if he needs money so badly, why didn’t he just accept the fortune he was offered in the first scene??

The FPP article answers this question perfectly and completely.

Tintin is weird, to be sure, but once you buy into Herge's assumptions (easy to do when it's standard childhood reading, as it is in Europe and Australasia) it all makes perfect sense. Tintin is essentially Galahad, and the Holy Grail he's seeking is the story.
posted by Sebmojo at 3:06 PM on February 3, 2013 [2 favorites]


Tintin would never play Dungeons & Dragons! Dude can't sit down for 30 minutes without a kidnapping attempt! He'd never get past character generation....
posted by GenjiandProust at 3:29 PM on February 3, 2013 [2 favorites]


It was nowhere near as terrible as I had feared.

As a Tintin purist, I was never going to like the movie. Having seen it, I was fully expecting to be filled with Teh Rage, but that somehow didn't happen, much to my own surprise. I admit that it was very well done for what it is, which is not a direct retelling of the original material, but an adaptation to a different set of storytelling conventions which I happen not to prefer over the original.

If the movie serves as a gateway to Herge, so much the better. I have not seen evidence of it taking the place of the original material, beyond the tied-in marketing.

All of which is a long-winded way of saying that I didn't hate it, which is about as good as could be hoped for.

I found the article interesting in considering aspects that I as a purist am somewhat blind to. I don't buy everything the author says, but there is much food for thought.
posted by Capt. Renault at 4:22 PM on February 3, 2013 [4 favorites]


It was a far better Indiana Jones movie than the last Indiana Jones movie.
posted by Artw at 4:53 PM on February 3, 2013 [6 favorites]


He admits to "not being a Tintin expert" but has the author of this piece ever actually read any Tintin? I kept getting the sense that the entirety of what he knows about Tintin comes from stuff about the film. His opening passage, where he talks about the content of the animated credits sequence as a metaphor for the platonic ideal of a Hollywood movie without ever acknowledging that it's also referring to as many of the original albums as possible - a fact which is pretty obvious even to someone like myself who's got two or three of the books, and has looked with vague curiosity at the grid of covers on their backs.
posted by egypturnash at 5:21 PM on February 3, 2013


The crane fight scene with Hassock and Sakranine is a direct parallel to the boat fight scene between Captain Francis Haddock and Red Rackum (for example the crashing cranes get stuck together like crashing masts)- so although it is not part of the TinTin book series it is not out of place.
posted by mutt.cyberspace at 6:23 PM on February 3, 2013


He admits to "not being a Tintin expert" but has the author of this piece ever actually read any Tintin?

My impression is that he has not. Toward the end he mentions a few scattered points with references to Hergé's source material only after crediting his wife as being a Tintin expert. My operating assumption is that the piece was written without reference to source material deliberately and when the writer realized he needed to clarify a point, he discussed it with her, whereupon she expressed dismay at his ignorance. Rather than reworking the article to include primary source materials research or even more of her views, the writer incorporated her information only in the paragraphs the he consulted her about.

But obviously this is simply predjudical speculation.
posted by mwhybark at 8:58 PM on February 3, 2013


There are several assertions in this post that rely on my buying into what you claim, JHarris. My skeptical eye approaches!

Heh. Well, my comment has to be at least somewhat brief. It's just something I've noticed a lot of people do, and it's something I strove to work against in my own writing, especially back in college, to not just blindly assert something but show my reasoning.
posted by JHarris at 9:31 PM on February 3, 2013


The more over the top action packed the movie got, the less I liked it. The more it ran on gags like Captain Haddock keeping an airplane engine running off the alcohol fumes in his breath, the more I loved it.
posted by philip-random at 11:29 PM on February 3, 2013


All members of my family enjoyed it, which is an impressive range. It was close in spirit to the books, though not in the details. Better than I expected in the end.
posted by mdoar at 1:55 PM on February 4, 2013


« Older DARPA has developed a 1800 megapixel sensor array ...  |  Bang With Friends... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments