Its probably not hard to imagine that I was one of those kids that was very much into comic books from a very young age. Whilst I was very much into the world of Spiderman and superhero chums, the first books that ever captured my little imagination were Tintin and Asterix. Perhaps something to do with my Gallic descent, Asterix would make me giggle for hours as I laughed at all the silly names and Obelix’s catastrophic nature. I honestly feel I learnt more from those books about the Roman Empire and European geography than I ever did from school, and it certainly taught me the word cacophony thanks to the warblings of the bard. However, no matter how much I enjoyed the tales of the indomitable Gaul, reading Tintin was a whole different bundle of excitement for the 7 year old me.
Here was a man, who looks very much like a boy, going on the sort of adventures an imaginative kid can only dream of, with the sort of ramshackle companions that can only make a journey more entertaining. Tales of the Aztecs, finding the Yeti and searching for hidden treasure, Herge’s beautifully drawn books kept me reading them over and over again, ticking all the boxes of a boy’s fiction needs. L told me she saw an item on channel 4 news that said children identify with Tintin because his character is so bland, and yet he is surrounded by such strong personalities such as that of Captain Haddock, Professor Calculus and even his dog Snowy, that many can put themselves in his place and therefore feel so enthralled with the story. I think that’s exactly what I did. Admittedly there was a small blip when I bought Tintin Au Congo in France (as it was unavailable in the UK) only find it was pretty racist and included a bit where he drilled a hole in a rhino’s back and put dynamite in it, which made me feel as far removed from the man in plus fours as possible.
Overall though, it was a series of books that meant a lot to me and was the reading equivalent of Indiana Jones, with the benefit that it didn’t make quite as much noise when I indulged in it, annoying the parents less than usual (I was good at this. The condition of my 1001 joke book that still resides at their house is a testament to such things). So, it was with some trepidation I went to see the Tintin film yesterday. When I first heard about it and found out who was involved – Spielburg directing, Peter Jackson producing, Stephen Moffat, Joe Cornish and Edgar Wright on the script, not to mention the cast – I immediately had high hopes, but the CGi trailer made me concerned that like so many other of my childhood joys, Hollywood had taken it and punched it in the face. Sure Spielburg did some of my favourite films of all time – the Indiana Jones trilogy amongst others – but he also did Indiana Jones 4 which ruins that a bit. Peter Jackson did Lord Of The Rings which was astounding and as a fan of the book, something that felt it was as close as it could have been if Tolkien had made it himself, but then he also did King Kong which was shit. Stephen Moffat has written the best and worst Doctor Who episodes of recent times. So it was all up in the air, and sitting down in my seats at the Vue cinema with my 3D glasses making me look like an 80’s reject, I waited.
Some films affect me for days after. Scott Pilgrim had me pretty much running up walls and shouting quotes from it for days. Spiderman 2 similarly made me want to climb things for about a week. Tintin similarly has given me a bug to travel the world on adventures and maybe get a small white dog. From the very opening credits it was everything I wanted it to be, replete with a score from John Williams. Matching the Secret of the Unicorn book almost perfectly, it didn’t feel the need to have any extra rubbish characters or fiddle with what was already a truly epic plot line. The CGi looked incredible, all the actors pretty much how I had always read them in my head. Even Captain Haddock, who’d I’d always seen as a West Country man, seemed perfect with Andy Serkis’ Scottish tones. More importantly, the whole film was done with care, seemingly by people who fully respected Herge’s original visions. That’s all I ever want in a film adaption. Just care about where it came from. If a story’s good then there is never any need to tamper with it, and the Tintin stories were and still are, brilliant. I shall be spending the rest of this week reminding myself of that and waiting impatiently for them to do the next instalment in the series.
* Woah Woah is the noise Snowy makes in the Belgian and French versions of the books. I always liked to think that he was more cautious on the continent.