TINTIN Gets a Plot

     August 27, 2008

Written by Cal Kemp

There was a bit of a mix-up earlier today when Herge Studios announced that Peter Jackson would be directing the first of three Tintin films, casting some doubt on Spielberg’s involvement in the project in a directorial capacity. Hollywood Reporter quickly corrected the story and confirmed that Spielberg would, indeed, helm the first of the trilogy.

But then they went on to confirm what’s long-been rumored; the first film will adapt Herge’s two-part Tintin story, “The Secret of the Unicorn” and “Red Rackham’s Treasure”. As a life-long Tintin fan, this makes me very, very happy.

Not only are these two books my favorites in the series, they’re adventure on an epic scale and perfect for the translation to live action. “Unicorn” is a Sherlock Holmes-esque mystery that has Tintin searching for model ships with hidden maps inside them, flashing back and forth to the life of his friend, Captain Haddock’s ancestor, Sir Francis Haddock and his battle with the villainous pirate Red Rackham. “Treasure” picks up right after as Tintin and Haddock join the eccentric Professor Calculus (introduced for the first time but becoming a regular from then on) and head to the high seas to search for sunken treasure in a submarine shaped like shark. Trust me, it’s as fantastic as it sounds.

What’s more, depending on how faithful these films are to the originals (and Spielberg has stressed that these are going to be extremely true to the originals), the selection here tells us a lot about what we can expect from the next two films. I’ll bet dollars to donuts that Jackson‘s entry will be the following two-parter, “The Seven Crystal Balls” and “Prisoners of the Sun”, an entry that takes Tintin and friends to Peru where they battle Inca warriors. Think “Kingdom of the Crystal Skull” but awesome.

So where does that leave the third entry? There’s two other two parters, “Destination Moon” and “Explorers on the Moon” follow the other adventures almost directly and — if they made it — would be amazing simply for it’s retro red-checkered rocketship and bright orange bubble-helmeted space suits. But, since it involves Tintin being the first man on the moon, it may come off as bit dated.

The only other two-parter is “Cigars of the Pharaohs” and “The Blue Lotus” but, since it was published much earlier, it doesn’t include any of the regular cast members. Is that something that’s going to disappoint movie-only audiences?

The other option is to combine other books or expand a single one. Depending on what we’re getting (I have a feeling it’s going to be more amazing than we might expect), that would potentially allow for the proposed Spielberg and Jackson co-directing duo.

When it comes to Tintin, I could theorize all day. The solid news is that Spielberg’s still directing and we have confirmation of the first adventure’s storyline. We’ll have more news as it comes but, in the meantime, get your hands on Herge’s original comics. Then you’ll understand why you should be as excited as I am.

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