Wednesday, 16 November 2011

Tintin in Hollywood

Tintin’s first trip to America took him to Chicago in 1931. In recognition of his heroic efforts in vanquishing the city’s criminal gangs, the boy reporter was offered a starring role in a billion dollar movie production by Paranoid Pictures. Eighty years on and the juvenile newshound has finally appeared on the Hollywood screen courtesy of Steven Spielberg. Despite the expensive motion capture technology, Tintinologists have not been impressed and many have denounced the film as a travesty and an annihilation of the authentic spirit of Tintin. Hergé’s wonderfully economic and expressive ligne claire was the first casualty of motion capture, discarded in favour of photorealism. Instead of being contained within the comfort of Hergé’s hand-drawn contours Tintin has been ejected into a supremely uncomfortable three-dimensional universe. To add to his troubles, his adventures, always improbable, have been launched into a new zone of special effects and percussive explosions. The problem seems to lie in the US where Tintin has never been more than a minority taste. To overcome this lack of enthusiasm the film-makers have employed the full and formulaic arsenal of shock and awe implausibility to drive the narrative at neutrino-like velocity – it remains to be seen whether the enormous sacrifice of subtlety was worthwhile when the film opens in the US in December.

Whatever the critical reception the Tintin industry will continue to expand and fortunes will be made from the sale of mountains of memorabilia and merchandise. European collectors seem happy to pay premium prices for Tintin products – if Americans can be persuaded to do likewise, the Hergé Foundation and its commercial arm, Moulinsart, will soon be adding millions of dollars to their vast stash of euros.

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