The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn

I am a massive Tintin fan, that will come as no surprise to anyone that knows me – and possibly no surprise to anyone else either what with it being a comic book… sorry graphic album.

I was fortunate enough to win tickets to the pre-premiere screening of The Secret of the Unicorn and was completely blown away. I went in to the cinema with a few reservations having seen some stills from the film and was not totally convinced that 3D motion-capture CGI animation was a good idea.

I was wrong, so wrong the film is a joyous adaptation of The Secret of the Unicorn with extra bits from The Crab With The Golden Claws (to introduce Captain Haddock) and extra characters from some of the other books in the series but the Tintin purist in me did not care. The adaptation was made with love, care and attention to detail. It works as an all-ages family-film and there are enough small pieces scattered like Easter eggs throughout the film to delight the obsessive fans such as myself.

I was discussing the film with a friend just after watching and we agreed that there is a wide gulf between the original books and the film but both can be enjoyed on their own merits.

Tintin gets a lot of criticism these days about being racially insensitive (Tintin in the Congo), not having any strong female characters an anything else that people see that may cause offence in the pages of the books. Some of the contentious issues as well as the fantastic illustrations and cracking adventure stories are what makes it so good to talk about in a group, especially with young people.

Amongst the many topics that can be discussed in reading groups are:

  • racial stereotypes most notably in Tintin in the Congo, the early editions of Tintin in America and The Shooting Star;
  • alcoholism – most of the stories that feature Captain Haddock and occasionally Snowy;
  • space exploration Destination Moon & Explorers on the Moon;
  • history – The Blue Lotus covred the Japanese invasion of Manchuria and the subsequent resignation from the League of Nations;
  • politics – Tintin in the Land of the Soviets, Tintin and the Picaros;
  • the slave trade The Red Sea Sharks;
  • drug smuggling – Cigars of the Pharaoh & The Crab with the Golden Claws.
  • The ligne claire style pioneered by Herge may also appeal to readers that enjoy reading comics but are unable to adapt their art styles to manga-like illustration.

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