Tintin movie draws fire from diehard fans

  • @robbiesharp

They call themselves "Tintinologists". So ahead of Hollywood's film version of the adventurous Belgian's story, which is premiering in Brussels tonight, the adaptation of the graphic novel series faces not so much criticism as uproar.

Press screenings of Steven Spielberg's The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn, which launches in Britain next week, have prompted one critic of the £82m movie to compare it to "witnessing a rape". Other earlier reviewers have panned it as an "airless pastiche" and "painful".

"People get freaked out if people change anything they came into contact with as a kid," said the Tintin fan and author A L Kennedy, who is set to review the film for BBC 2. "From what I've seen in the previews the film does look a little blurry."

Inspired by Hergé's "palette" of characters, stories and designs, Spielberg has teamed up with Lord of the Rings director Peter Jackson to create a predictably Hollywoodised Hergé, focusing on action instead of the Belgian's trademark humour, employing the vocal talents of Jamie Bell, Andy Serkis and Daniel Craig.

Spielberg used the same special-effects company responsible for James Cameron's Avatar, and its updated motion-capture techniques. The director said he turned to such technology "because it most resembles the hand-to-paper art of Hergé", but reviewers lament its stifling effect on the books' personality.

Hergé, born Georges Remi in 1907, began publishing Tintin's adventures in a Brussels newspaper in 1929 and the strips were an instant hit. By the peak of his fame, his work had been translated into 60 languages. He published 24 books in total, ending with the Tintin and Alph-Art, which was half-completed when he died in 1983.

It was around this time that Spielberg, who'd heard reviewers compare his 1983 film Raiders of the Lost Ark to the Belgian author's work, rang him up. "He just committed, at that moment, that he wanted me to be the director to turn his stories into films," says the director, though Hergé's biographers indicate that the process was somewhat more fraught with legalities.