Features and Columns · Movies

The (Many) Cinematic Adventures of Tintin

Time to praise one of the few fully mocap animated films to clear the uncanny valley.
The Adventures Of Tintin
Paramount Pictures
By  · Published on November 26th, 2021

Welcome to The Queue — your daily distraction of curated video content sourced from across the web. Today, we’re watching a video essay about the cinematic legacy of Tintin and Steven Spielberg’s 2011 film The Adventures Of Tintin.

Despite being a global phenomenon, The Adventures of Tintin never really caught on stateside. Created by Belgian cartoonist Georges Remi, who wrote under the pen name Hergé, the boy scout’s adventures have had been published in more than 70 languages with comic book sales exceeding 200 million copies. And you have to wonder if the (tempered) failure of Tintin winning over yanks has to do with the lack of a definitive Tintin film.

Hergé was always guarded when it came to cinematic adaptations of his work and with good reason, it turns out. There have been six Tintin movies in total: one stop-motion production, two live-action films, two films that used traditional animation, and then, after forty-year hiatus, 2011’s The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn. Directed by Steven Spielberg, who Hergé personally considered to be the only man for the job, Spielberg teamed up with Peter Jackson’s Weta Digital to create one of the few motion-capture 3D films to avoid barrelling into the uncanny valley. So what’s with that 40-year gap?

There are a number of wrinkles that make Tintin a difficult subject for adaptation. While Silent Cinema fan Hergé himself considered his comics as “movies on paper,” particularities integral to making Tintin, well…Tintin, have a habit of slipping through the cracks. The video essay below offers a thorough look at why Tintin is such a tricky subject for adaptation, including the modern necessity of contending with the more uncomfortable aspects of Hergé’s legacy (including racial stereotypes and ethnocentricity). The essay serves as a detailed example of how an adaptation like The Secret of the Unicorn can be successful by staying out of the shadow of its creator, having a discussion with rather than about Hergé, and feeling like they have the freedom to do their own thing while doing right by their source material.

Watch “The Adventures of Tintin and the Shadows of Giants”:

Who made this?

This video on Tintin’s cinematic legacy is by Jace, a.k.a  BREADSWORD, an LA-based video essayist who specializes in long-form nostalgia-heavy love letters. Impeccably edited and smoother than butter, BREADSWORD essays boast an unparalleled relaxed fit and an expressive narrative tone. Long essays like this take a lot of time to put together, and somehow BREADSWORD makes it all look effortless. You can subscribe to them on YouTube here. And you can follow them on Twitter here.

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Based in the Pacific North West, Meg enjoys long scrambles on cliff faces and cozying up with a good piece of 1960s eurotrash. As a senior contributor at FSR, Meg's objective is to spread the good word about the best of sleaze, genre, and practical effects.