Supersized and glazed
It’s a strange thing, to watch a comic you’ve imagined coming to life many times in your head since childhood, acquire thrilling digital life. The life inside your head remains, but now there’s a barrier—a glazed, “motion-captured”, live animation barrier.
The Hollywoodized Tintin, in the good hands of Steven Spielberg and Peter Jackson, is far away from Herge’s. Tintin can now somersault in mid-air and leap from wall to wall—a European boy-hero and intrepid reporter turns edgy superhero.
Spielberg who directs it and Peter Jackson who co-produces it with Spielberg, are masters of the grand cinematic scale—ingenuous cons, who can trick the eye with sweeping visuals. Spielberg combines three books, The Crab with the Golden Claws, The Secret of the Unicorn and Red Rackham’s Treasure, into one breathless spectacle. Purists are bound to cringe.
In 3-D scale, some of the details, including Tintin’s inherent ordinariness is lost. The humour in some of the characters such as the bumbling detective duo Thompson and Thomson, and the other big leading man Captain Haddock, are exaggerated. Much of the comics are in the intricacies of Herge’s colour illustrations. There are sub-textual meanings which emerge on repeated viewings. It is impossible to weave in those sub-texts in a film that drives entirely on technology. The writing is crisp, but without minute changes in expressions which this format does not unfortunately allow, the sub-texts of a scene or situation are lost.
The film only partly captures the busy frames of Herge and the pace in which Tintin’s journeys usually unfold. Almost every frame of the comic books have movement, and live animation makes that pace come fully alive.
The Adventures of Tintin is a thrilling ride, not suited for those uninitiated to the comics. This is not the best introduction to one of the world’s most widely read comic books. If you know Tintin well, go satisfy your curiosity.
For more on the film and Tintin’s enduring appeal all over the world: Read Tintinology
The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn released in theatres on Friday
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