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Documentary: Tintin and I

tintinandi-mainLike most anyone born before the 90’s I grew up very much aware of the graphic novels which make up the adventures of Tintin, however I can’t say that I’ve done anything more than skim through the books themselves. I could be wrong, but it certainly seems that the Tintin adventures have fallen off the radar of kids and young adults over the past couple of decades, perhaps because the death of the series creator George Remi’s (aka Hergé) in 1983, meant that the adventures were over, at least in their original form — Steven Spielberg is scheduled to begin filming a Tintin movie this December.

Not having been particularly familiar with the adventures and characters in the Tintin stories I wasn’t entirely sure that the documentary, TINTIN AND I, would hold much interest for me. However the documentary, directed by Anders Østergaard, is mostly constructed from an interview that Hergé gave to Numa Sadoul, a young writer for a cartooning magazine, in 1971. For Sadoul the stars must have seemed to align, because, for whatever reason, the normally reserved Belgian cartoonist completely opened himself up to the interviewer. The resulting ten hours of audio tape were handed to Østergaard some thirty years later and the documentary is an interesting self evaluation, by a man who spent much of his life searching for some kind of peace.

The tone and texture of the Tintin adventures were intrinsically linked to the time in Hergé’s life. However unlike Tintin and his friends, Hergé didn’t travel the world having adventures, instead he escaped from his own life vicariously through the comics and the meticulously detailed research that he used to create them (especially the later books).

Outside of the audio interview with Hergé this documentary is primarily constructed using fairly traditional techniques, relying on archive footage and ‘talking head’ footage of people who knew, or have studied, Hergé and his work. However Østergaard uses an interesting — and clearly meticulous — technique to give some visual compliment to Sadoul’s inteview. Applying filters to old television footage Østergaard manages to sync up short grabs of Hergé speaking, gesturing or laughing in time with the audio.

Creative film-making aside, it’s Hergé’s words themselves that make this an interesting watch. From the beginnings of Tintin in a Catholic newspaper, to working for a newspaper which was taken over during the German occupation of Belgium — for which he was later accused of collaboration. Hergé reveals the influences of his personal life and an eventual breakdown and how these events shaped the adventures that he sent his characters on.

For those who grew up with The Adventures of Tintin this documentary will probably answer many questions about the changing tone of the series, however for those, like me, who are yet to really discover these novels, Tintin and I is an enticing introduction to something which is clearly more than *JUST* an illustrated novel series for kids. [source]

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