Tintin et le mystère de la Toison d’Or

Synopsis: A surprise message from Istanbul is about to ruin Captain Haddock’s day. Named as sole beneficiary in the will of his late comrade Captain Paparanic, Haddock and his best friend, intrepid boy reporter Tintin (Jean-Pierre Talbot), journey to Turkey to claim a strangely disappointing bounty – but is all as it seems? Aided by their friends, (the eccentric Professor Calculus and faithful Snowy the dog), Tintin and Haddock set out to solve the mystery of Paparanic’s bequest – a rusty old ship called the Golden Fleece.

Along the way they confront slippery lawyers, ex-pirates, dangerous gangsters and the bumbling Thom(p)son detectives in an action-packed journey that takes them from Turkey to Greece. One of the very few adaptations to meet with Tintin creator Herge’s approval, Tintin and the Mystery of the Golden Fleece is a spirited live-action take on his iconic comic creation, featuring all his best-loved characters. Jean-Pierre Talbot’s expert martial arts skills and his uncanny portrayal of Tintin, and George Wilson’s larger-than-life Captain Haddock combine to lift the comic books from page to screen in a film which no Tintin fan, young and old, will want to be without.
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Tintin et le mystère de la Toison d’Or 7.0

Adapting a comic book or cartoon series into a live-action film is a tricky premise. For starters, it’s very hard to transform cartoon characters into flesh and blood, being that they don’t usually look life-like. Secondly, everyone has their own mental interpretation of how they would look like. Add to this the lack of realism in some of these books/series, and you’ve got a difficult transition to a real-world setting ahead of you.

‘Tintin et le mystère de la Toison d’Or’ does a credible job of bringing to life the Tintin characters and the world they live in.

It helps that Tintin’s adventures were still somewhat contemporary at the time of this production, which was in the very early ’60s. Europe hadn’t yet changed dramatically, and it was possible to shoot the film without much/any set design by using real locations. And, the fact that the characters, albeit slightly silly at times, are pretty much believable, makes the translation possible.

In this first of two French productions, they re-created Tintin’s merry band of misfits relatively well:

Tintin: As incarnated by Jean-Pierre Talbot, Tintin is very much as in the books. In fact, Talbot would never play any role other than Tintin; he was born for that part and had the approval of Hergé himself. Talbot had martial arts experience and was able to do his own stunts and combat sequences. Having no prior acting experience, he vaguely comes across as mix of Steve Guttenberg crossed with Bruce Lee.

Milou (Snowy): While they didn’t pick the exact same breed as in the books (heck, I’m not even sure if Hergé picked a real breed or simply inspired himself), the dog they chose did a decent enough job, hitting all its marks eagerly.

Haddock: Georges Wilson does a credible job, living up to expectations; he balanced Haddock’s serious and farcical qualities equally well. The main problem is that he’s hampered by an unsightly felt beard that covers half his face, which makes him look like he had his face painted black. It’s very weird, and it’s virtually impossible to not be distracted by it. It’s probably the worst false beard I’ve ever seen on screen – they could have taken barber shop trimmings and glued them to his face haphazardly and it would have looked better than this. tongue0024 Free Emoticons   Sticking Out Tongue

Tournesol (Calculus): Georges Loriot looks and acts the part (it’s not a difficult one, mind you, and it’s a small role anyway). Strangely, he looks a little plastic, as if his face were moulded and then dipped in lacquer. I’m not sure why that is…

Dupond and Dupont (Thomson and Thompson): This is the real casting issue, in my opinion. For whatever reason, they picked some skinny guys to play the duo and had them spout out some unfathomable (Spanish? Certainly not Belgian or French…) accent. They simply don’t embody the characters well. Furthermore, they’re not very good at physical comedy – and yet the duo’s key role in this film is as the comic relief. To make matters worse, they have too much screen time to be ignored… indifferent0004 Free Emoticons   Indifferent

As for the motion picture itself?

Well, ‘Tintin et le mystère de la Toison d’Or’ starts off quite like a typically fun Tintin adventure, but I’m sad to report that it peters out at the halfway mark and turns into a mid-level French film of that era – the Hergé magic completely dispelled. The mystery itself is not much to shake a stick at, quite frankly, but it’s justification enough to have all the chases and fights with the many villains (while it’s not an action-heavy film, it’s got enough decent thrills to satisfy its audience).

I liked the pace of this film. While it’s got its share of action, they also take a lot of time to sit with the characters and flesh them out, which is quite like the books were. Also, being an old, and presumably comparatively low-budget production, it really helps to get into the spirit of things – it feels more European, as opposed to Hollywoodian. So the vibe of this film really worked for me. happy0027 Free Emoticons   Happy

Does it have repeat value? I think so (albeit perhaps not for everyone!). Will I watch it again? No doubt. It’s the closest thing that we have to a ‘real’ Tintin film, and there’s just something about a live action film vs. an animated one – perhaps that it’s easier to connect with.

And, while some of the animated productions are good enough interpretations of the books, this is an original tale that’s only available here. It’s not perfect by any means, but it’s decent enough for a slow Saturday or Sunday afternoon. And, really, who better to spend your afternoon with than Tintin? happy0024 Free Emoticons   Happy

Hmmm… Astérix? Perhaps. But that’s another story altogether… winking0002 Free Emoticons   Winking

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