Wednesday, February 8, 2012

492) The Adventures of Tintin (2011)

492) The Adventures of Tintin (2011) Dir: Steve Spielberg Date Released: December 21, 2011 Date Seen: December 10, 2011 Rating: 4/5

Fun! See my review for Capital New York.


  1. I just watched a blu ray rip, and feel that, while affable, the film hyper-kineticizes the cleanliness of the original comics' aesthetic somewhat unsuccessfully. The terra firma of Hergé's gutters supply a surfeit of charm absent from this adaptation; his visual naivete expresses itself via the mostly static rendering of topsy-turvy events, as though from an impartial, almost indolently godlike eye-line perspective. (cf the panels in the UNICORN comic where Haddock works himself up to a frenzy reenacting his ancestral annals; the narrative he expels is illustrated in full costume, but we never once inhabit his boozy POV, instead observing his havering from a sober distance, quite crucially.) The mise-en-scene here reminded me more of producer Peter Jackson's early work than Spielberg's--the goddamn camera never stops moving. The film is, granted, not a comic, and can use motion to generate tension without becoming visually incoherent or obscuring how the action we're watching competently advances the plot. I just wish they'd found a compromise between the vertiginousness I saw and Hergé's conservative world-building. The performances, however, were better than expected--both in terms of acting and the CGI histrionics--and I quite liked the narrative smushing, though this is my third favorite Tintin arc behind the Inca-themed one and the singularly contemplative TINTIN IN TIBET, which seems to wonder aloud about the "reality" of the fascism in Tintin's universe. Thoughts?

    1. O hai, Jonny.

      I think what you're responding to is a necessary change with regard to Spielberg's adaptation. I think if he had gone at the same pace that Herge might have in his comics, the film's narrative would have been too slow.

      But yes, Herge's stories all seem to take place in a pointedly naive world of negative space. To faithfully reproduce that kind of primitivist abstraction, you'd need someone other than Spielberg to go after the material. I love Spielberg and think this film reminded me of TEMPLE OF DOOM most. But yeah, you're not going to see Spielberg attempting to slavishly reproduce the feeling of reading a TINTIN comic. He's not Robert Rodriguez: if you want to feel like you're reading Herge's comics, you can just read 'em and plug in your own voices.

      In fact, Spielberg's hyper-ness here is a product of the look of his film, which is something of an anchor for Spielberg's adaptation. In spirit, I find the story to be very much like a TINTIN comic so in that sense, that's about as accountable as Spielberg needs to be as a master pastiche artist.

      I haven't read the comics in years so I can't say which ones are my favorite stories though.