Tintin and His Ginger Quiff

(cue dramatic John Williams music)

In a world before Hiccup and Toothless...

Harry and Hedwig....

and Sam Gamgee and Bill the Pony, there was...

Tintin, the Belgian reporter and his brilliant fox terrier Snowy out to save the world from evil bad guys in a series of comics written by the amazing artist, Hergé aka George Remi. There’s no shortage of globe-trotting, slapstick comedy, dangerous villains, and crazy (but funnily plausible enough) adventures with a colorful cast of characters in these books. 

The Adventures of Tintin are greatest comic books series ever written. Seriously. (Although I should tell you, I might have a slight disadvantage picking the best of the best of comic books seeing as Tintin are the only comic books I read. Heh) In these intelligent, layered, well-researched, beautifully drawn, satirical books, Tintin and Snowy travel the world and deal with everything from Al Capone to South American revolutions to Eastern European politics to sunken treasure to horrible Opera singers to the excess of the Soviet Union. And oh yeah, they go to the moon. THE MOON. Twenty years before the real first lunar landing. These books have EVERYTHING except romance and provide a wonderful snapshot of the 20th century. 

There's a reason why some people want the series to be called the Adventures of Tintin and Snowy

And the film just last Sunday won the Golden Globe for Best Animated Feature. Er, I *may* have teared up a bit when they announced it. (Umm, ahem, yes, I know I shouldn't take these film award shows waayyy too seriously...but I mean, it's TINTIN!)

But however wonderful that award is, the award is a Golden Globe and that’s the issue: The Golden Globes are given by foreign journalists, the keyword there being foreign. The movie has been overlooked (*cough* BOMBED *cough*) critically and box office-wise on this side of the world, obviously because Tintin is indubitably and unapologetically European. (I bet you my bowl of Cheerios that the Oscar's going to Rango.) Belgian or not, no childhood hero of mine should have to suffer through this embarrassment, so here here are six reasons why you should go running to see it now!

(1) It’s visually stunning. Pulling a Chris Traeger (from Parks & Recreation), I’ll say that’s it LITERALLY the most gorgeous animated feature I’ve seen. It is brilliant- no PHENOMENAL animation and use of motion capture. It’s jaw-dropping and I almost fell out my chair while watching it with my 3D glasses on. I remember when the first sneak peek pictures came out my brother and I went around the house in a rampage that Spielberg and Jackson were going to ruin our favorite childhood hero’s story. We went into the theater sweating, begging Spielberg that everything will go alright (because we have a telepathic link with Spielberg obviously), and two hours later we were able to wipe the sweat off our brows while walking out because it did. Thank you animators at WETA digital. 

This was LITERALLY my pose for the entire two hours sans Snowy.
 (via markeeto)

(2) The story’s just infectious with its energy. It’s an adventure story: a classic, quaint, smart early 20th century adventure story. This is Indiana Jones decades before Indiana Jones came to life. It starts quietly enough: Tintin’s enjoying an afternoon walking around a flea market and he happens to find a model ship of The Unicorn. From there the story jumps forward and never stops as Tintin heads out to find the secret of The Unicorn before the villains do. It’s exhilarating and I haven't had this much fun watching a film in a loonng time.

(3) Cinematography and transitions. It’s an animated film so it’s probably a bit easier getting the cameras around everything but hey, credit is due where credit is due. The filmmakers have to think creatively about where to place the cameras, right? And they do. The camera sweeps all throughout the film, following Tintin's escapades through windows, on the streets of Brussels, in the Moroccan town of Bagghar, and etc, so so so beautifully. And the transitions. Holy. Cheesecakes. WHEN TINTIN AND CAPTAIN HADDOCK SHAKE HANDS, THE CAMERA ZOOMS IN AND THE HANDS TURN INTO SAND DUNES. WHO THINKS OF TRANSITIONS LIKE THAT?!?! And The Unicorn BURSTING through the sand. And the chase sequence. AHHH. The way Tintin turns the motorcycle handles around to use them and a wire as a zipline. AHHH again. I might get a heart attack just getting too excited about it. 

I LITERALLY cannot wait for all the behind the scenes special features the blu-ray's going to bring. (via)

(4) Tintin’s introduction scene rocks. That is all. And his gravity-defying quiff got a special scene (psst..the scene involves mirrors).

The biggest issue with the film that American critics seem to be having with the film (besides the mo-cap) is Tintin himself. Everyone seems to want a backstory for him. After reading each book countless times, I can say that he just doesn’t have one. He’s meant to be enigmatic. I don't think I've realized this until I came back from the film, but the biggest mystery in the entire series of mysteries is Tintin. From what we the readers know, he has no parents or family to speak of besides Snowy. He doesn’t have much of a life outside of being a reporter, no determinate age (I always thought he was in his late teens/early twenties), and we don’t know what the deal with his name is (is Tintin a pseudonym for his journalistic activities or what?!), but that’s okay. Hergé gives us everything we need to know about him: 

Tintin's a ginger, quiffed reporter whose signature outfit consists of a beige trench-coat, a blue sweater, and brown plus fours. He’s whipsmart, adventurous, eager, innocent-ish but calculating, dynamic, and ridiculously good-looking for an animated character. He also knows the meaning of truly packing a punch. 

And Jamie Bell captured him very well. The mannerisms, the expressions and the tone he gives to Tintin are perfect. The rest of the actors (Andy Serkis, Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, etc) nailed their roles as Captain Haddock and Thompson & Thomson respectively. And Daniel Craig was surprisingly sinister as the bad guy. 

Real Tintin is wondering how and why motion-capture Tintin looks better than he does...

... while motion-capture Tintin has just noticed that his quiff is fashionably triangular instead of rectangular like in the books. 
(via brokensunday)

(5) It will make you smile. It made me smile and I’m pretty sure there’s at least one smile-inducing scene for everyone (and OF COURSE it will because the screenplay was written by the hilarious and witty British writing trio Steven Moffat, Edgar Wright, and Joe Cornish). One of my favorite scenes is when Tintin’s trying to figure out why everyone’s after his model ship of The Unicorn, and a grin comes on his face and he says, “...And I know where I’ll find the answer...the library!” I'm sorry everyone. I tried to but I couldn't stop myself from awwwing. It was too adorable. How many characters do you see these days exclaiming enthusiastically that they need to go the library to get information besides Hermione?

(6) It’s a lovely tribute to Hergé. Hergé's the artist who's inspired everyone from Walt Disney to Brad Bird. If you pick up a book after seeing the movie (hopefully!), you’ll see that there are little details the filmmakers sprinkled throughout to show their love and appreciation for Hergé's world: Tintin’s apartment had red armchairs and a desk next to the window; Tintin gets knocked out numerous times (I assure you that I’m not a sadist! Hergé has Tintin getting clubbed or hit with a brick or rake or wine bottle or something almost all the time. It just won't be Tintin without those scenes); there are guns and aeroplanes; Snowy saves the day plenty of times; Captain Haddock can swear colorfully and the bad guys are refreshingly old-fashioned. Though some might disagree with me, even though it’s not animated in the traditional sense, the art and design of everything is still very Hergé. There is nothing out of place here, except for a few lapses of reality but I’m not even going to go there.

So yeah, in conclusion, GO SEE The Adventures of Tintin! And thank you Spielberg,  Peter Jackson, WETA, the writers, Jamie Bell and the rest of the cast for not being afraid to bring out their inner Tintin nerd while making this film. As the cartoon series Tintin would strangely say, “YAHOOO!” 

"I LITERALLY cannot wait until Steve lets me stop doing all this publicity stuff."
 -Jamie Bell 


  1. Sounds great! I recognize Tintin now, and i think I would like reading about his adventures!

    (Yay, you posted!)

    1. Since we're having a Tintin/birthday/graduation celebration in June I thought I should prep you. :) And I needed to write a little more. :)