« Untitled | Main | House on a Wire »

May 26, 2007

Lights... Camera... Tintin!

The Hergé 100 year anniversary exhibit at the Pompidou, Paris.

Yes it's true. After all these years, our intrepid reporter is at last being immortalized on the silver screen. The film will be Directed by Steven Spielberg and Peter Jackson, and produced by Kathleen Kennedy, all of whom have signed up for a trilogy. In shimmering CG!

Jackson is careful to explain that, while Weta will maintain Hergé's timeless designs, the film and its characters will not look "cartoonish". As he says,

We're making them look photorealistic; the fibers of their clothing, the pores of their skin and each individual hair. They look exactly like real people — but real Hergé people!

Eek! Sounds a bit scary to me! I can't help but wonder why they wouldn't just stick closer to Hergé's time-tested ligne claire visual style: a look that generations have grown up with.

Tintin_06_2But I didn't grow up reading Tintin. I discovered the series in the early 90's, right around time we were starting Myst. About this same time, I was beginning to wonder how I'd ever render all the images that the Myst world required. Of course I'd draw them by hand; initially, I had no question about that... after all, that's how we'd done our previous works. And so, for about 20 minutes one day, at the very beginning of the project, I got out Hergé's The Black Island and began to sketch islands.Tintin_052

And then I turned around and quickly abandon the effort. After all, there's only one Hergé!

The rest, as they say, is history: we turned to 3-D. And though desktop computing power was at a minimum (relative to today), the addition of 3-D (Stratavision 3-D) allowed us to render thousands of images, not hundreds. More importantly, it instilled a maturity in the environment: enough to give users the sense they'd actually stepped onto the shores of Myst island.

Tintin_04 And now we return to Hergé. While recently in Paris, my family and I visited the Pompidou (like all good tourists). On the way out, we discovered that we had just missed a Hergé exhibit (celebrating the artist's 100th birthday). Oh, how our hearts ached! But the catalog! There must be a catalog! Of course, I immediately rushed to the museum bookstore and found it: Hergé! And what a catalog! If you're a Tintin fan, I highly recommend this thick but small volume, practically stuffed full of original drawings, paintings, prints, and photographs.

Tintin_01_small I also picked up Tintin et Moi, an revealing biographical portrait of Hergé, told through the artist's own voice. The principle audio of all this is eerily compiled from 14 hours of in depth interviews, recorded in 1971 by Numa Sadoul. It's fascinating! (video preview)

Note: An article entitled A Boy's World: The Tintin Century is available in the latest issue of the New Yorker.

May 26, 2007 | Permalink


TrackBack URL for this entry:

Listed below are links to weblogs that reference Lights... Camera... Tintin!:


When I first heard about the movie, I thought it was a joke. Spielberg AND Peter Jackson? It will be interesting to see what they come up with.

Posted by: Austin Storm | May 26, 2007 6:48:15 PM

They've run out of ideas, it seems.

It's not that I don't think Tintin makes for great story fodder, per se, but I think there's a reason Pixar does so well.

I just finished watching Pan's Labyrinth for the first time, and just can't imagine anything more perfect--adaptations tend to suffer in being adapted. Film doesn't transilterate books well, and much is lost. Sometimes it continues to work (LotR, for e.g.), but Pan's Labyrinth was made to be nothing else than what it is: a film (perfectly fitted to its form).

At least perhaps more Americans will be made familiar with Herge's work. And that will be a good thing.

(Next: Dreamworks SKG announces the development rights to Pogo!)

Posted by: Scott Elyard | May 26, 2007 9:58:45 PM

My husband is a big Tintin fan and is excited, but I'm sort of in agreement with Scott on that one. Adaptations. I don't know. I guess we'll see. (In fact I'm sure I'll see. My husband will run right out and buy the DVD the first day it's on the shelf. :P )

Posted by: Bonnie | May 27, 2007 6:41:01 PM

ooh... I'm scared. I read those as a kid. Spielberg and Jackson are awesome movie makers, but I hope this doesn't turn into some uber-action series (the Lord of the Rings, King Kong, and Indiana Jones all have their really nasty moments).

Posted by: alli | May 31, 2007 9:22:18 AM

After reading this blog, I wanted to get into TinTin again. I had watched the TV series as a kid before it was turned over to the "premium" children's network (where's the justice?). So I picked up a few of the comics from my local library, and I must admit: the plots are interesting, but the dialogue and characters are racy at best. And by racy, I mean racist and stereotypical.

On the other hand, since we're talking about Spielburg, one only has to refer to the Indiana Jones movies in which the enemy is either of a foreign origin (and therefore evil) or a Nazi (and therefore REALLY evil, but also sexy).

I'm sure (despite Spielburg's involvement) this will become another low-income high-budget kid's movie where TinTin gets a modern update and Snowy is a dog with peanut butter problems. Or, if we're doomed, a Pixar clone. Sorry guys! X(

Posted by: Chris | Aug 19, 2007 4:13:21 PM

Oh wait...we're doomed.

Posted by: Chris | Aug 19, 2007 4:14:32 PM

The comments to this entry are closed.