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Castafiore Emerald: not much of a plot?

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#11 · Posted: 10 Sep 2004 18:34
Personally, I love the Castiafore Emerald. Along with King Ottokar's Sceptre and Lotus it's my favorite.

#12 · Posted: 10 Sep 2004 21:40 · Edited by: Moderator
Tintinrulz, I was talking about other book other than Tintin are all just shoot' em up. Tintin is not one of those kinds of comics, thats what makes Tintin so good. Thanks!

[Moderator action: edited post to improve readability.]
Moderator note: To make your posts easier to read, please use mixed case instead of all lower (or upper) case. Thanks for your cooperation.
John Sewell
#13 · Posted: 4 Nov 2004 13:52
Over the years, I've come to see Emerald as one of my favourite Tintin books, but things were pretty different when I first read it at the age of about 10 or 11. It was the last one of the books that I read (at least, before I became aware that Congo and Blue Lotus hadn't then been translated), as it was the one that none of our local bookshops ever seemed to have a copy of. Going by the thumbnails on the back covers of the other books, I sort of imagined it to be an exciting whiz-bang jewel robbery tale, probably set around a TV studio. When I finally got hold of a copy, I was more than a little underwhelmed. It's been described as "Tintin Stays At Home", or "the one where nothing happens", and that was my feeling then!

These days, I love the more relaxed feel, and all the local colour added. In the previous books, we never really found out much about Marlinspike as a place, but here there's loads of lovely little details in there. In terms of the plot, it is played out rather like a stage farce. In some ways, it's more a Haddock story than a Tintin adventure. Most of the "action" concerns the Captain's frustrations, and the way his desire for a quiet life is constantly thwarted; by the unreliable stonemason, his injury, Castafiore, reporters, TV crews, bees... and of course that wretched parrot! Tintin of course does all the crucial plot advancing bits of the book, but for much of it, the Captain takes centre stage.

The Prof also gets a good showing, with his new-found interest in horticulture, and a great bonkers invention in the form of his colour TV gadget. I love the way in which that one frame on page 50 is drawn to show the effect it has on everybody! His obvious infatuation with Castafiore is quite touching as well - he's probably got more than one motive for going to Milan at the end ;)

The great diva herself comes into her own here, her previous appearances being, in the main, cameos, with her popping up for a few pages to get our heroes out of a fix. Has to be said though, that in some ways, it's not a very sympathetic characterisation! She's vain and self-obsessed (her generous gift of one of her own records to Tintin), none too clever ("...Henry the Tenth, is it not?"), and something of a tyrant on the side (Mr. Wagner seems more than a little scared of her). On the other hand, we can share the Captain's glee as she demolishes Wagg with a few well-placed words, and there's some fantastic satire in her dealings with the press. Her lack of concern at the "exclusive" that she and the Captain are to be wed is very nicely contrasted with Haddocks's dismay and anger.

On the whole, I think Emerald is a brave attempt to do something which pushes the boundries of Tintin stories, though I can't help wondering what the readers of Tintin Magazine thought during the original serialisation. Probably spent a lot of the time wondering when a grotesque villain or fiendish deathtrap were going to put in an appearance! (Well, they had to wait until the next story, in which they got plenty of both!) In some ways, I see it as Tintin's own variant on the James Bond films' On Her Majesty's Secret Service ; a change of direction, which seems to have been somewhat low-regarded in comparison with the rest of the series, but which has become much more appreciated as the years have gone on!
Harrock n roll
#14 · Posted: 4 Nov 2004 14:49 · Edited by: Harrock n roll
I agree with all of that John, Emerald is certainly a real grower, I've come to think of it as one of Hergé's best in terms of the humour and pacing. I think the relaxed feel comes from the fact that Hergé had exorcised a few of his demons after Tibet. I also think we get to know a lot more about the main characters except Tintin. I guess all the other characters drive the story along so well that Tintin becomes pretty much an outsider in this adventure - and he's not really a supporting character. In fact I always thought it as one book (along with Picaros) where Tintin himself comes across as, well... a bit boring. After all, what's he doing loafing around the mansion when he should be out there sniffing out dangerous villains? Hergé was toying with us I think.
#15 · Posted: 4 Nov 2004 19:33 · Edited by: kirthiboy
Castafiore Emrald is meant for adult Tintin fans I think. Maybe I'll put mature instead of adult. When I was collecting Tintin albums, I never bought Castafiore Emrald thinking its not so interesting looking from the cover. I only used to buy those albums whose covers fancied me. As I mentioned earlier in a previous forum, I thought Tintin fights a dragon in China in "The Blue Lotus". And some made me so curious. Like "Red Rackham's Treasure", seriously what can you make out at such a young age somebody inside a shark when you dont even know what a submarine is!

Anyways, when my collection reached its end, I bought Castafiore Emrald. Fortunately I was very much mature by that time and found it one the most perfect albums, well plotted and designed.

If you see the story continues till end as if its going to take Tintin on another adventure where he fights gangsters and foils their plans. But the way story goes keeps you hooked till the end. Haddock is at his best and of course Calculus. You get to see Marlinspike and the local area more. Of course you develop a bigger hate for madam Castafiore. It shows the other side of Wagner (the pianist) who hates practising piano all the time, does gambling at the horce races and even tries to act like Tintin snooping around for clues to solve the mystery. Thomson and Thompsons entry is amazing as usual.

Note: The mason do makes an entry at Marlinspike before he fixes the stairs, he appears as one of the band members of the Marlinspike Prize Band Supporters Club. I guess Haddock must have never met the mason earlier because he never noticed him or maybe he already had too much on his plate.

Infact I dont like Picaros for some reasons. Tintin would never abandon his friends. I mean Tintin would never have left Haddock and Calculus go to Tapiocapolis without him.
Secondly Haddock loosing his ability to drink alcohol ruins the whole gag system imo. Seriously, imagine how Tintin would have persuaded Haddock to follow him on any more adventures. In early albums Tintin always used to always carry a flask of alcohol for emergencies ;)
Thirdly I think it could have been made more interesting.
Harrock n roll
#16 · Posted: 5 Nov 2004 01:48 · Edited by: Harrock n roll
kirthiboy said: Of course you develop a bigger hate for madam Castafiore.

Personally I don't hate Castafiore - any friend of Tintin is a friend of mine! (don't get me wrong, I don't usually hang around with retired sailors, dotty professors or famous opera singers, but if I did I'd have to like 'em!)

The saga with Mr. Bolt also reminds me of an episode of Fawlty Towers where Basil has similar problems with a builder. Apparently many of the events such as the uninvited brass band booze-up and the unreliable builder are taken from Hergé's own experiences. Emerald could be seen as autobigraphical, a satire on his own success and the intrusion it brought him.
#17 · Posted: 5 Nov 2004 12:48
Yeah I guess you are right. I was just saying in general that people hate Castafiore a lot. She, however, did save our adventurers a couple of time. She first gave a lift to Tintin in Ottokar Sceptre. Then she saves them from Sponz in Calculus Affair. She has a bit of a very minor role of saving Haddock, Tintin and Skutz in Red Sea Sharks. And if you consider Lake of Sharks too, she helps Tintin reach the police station.
#18 · Posted: 9 Nov 2004 10:54
I personally agree with tintinrulz.
Tintin is rather like Hitchcock-mystery,a little bit of action, fraud
relationships between characters.
I thought that Emerald was boring when I was little but now I reallly enjoy it's subtleness.
It kind of has anything other than a plot.
For me it's just great fun to watch the relationships, colourful graphic stlye, and a depiction of tintin just having a real break from things.
Our dad used to read all the books to us(we lived in saudi arabia at this time and the land of black gold was banned because of it's racism against muslims "by the beard of the prophet" and so on)
and this was always his favourite one.
It's so shallow, but yet so deep.
#19 · Posted: 23 Feb 2005 01:41
Personally I LOVE 'Castafiore Emerald', and it's been one of my top five favourite volumes since I was a little kid.

I got it one Christmas from my folks along with 'Land Of Black Gold', and even though the latter is full of all the action-adventure elements that make Tintin stories so thrilling, I think 'Emerald' became my favourite out of those two... hard to explain why, but the way it reads like a farce or a sitcom really appealed then and now.

In fact, it wasn't until I started reading these forums that I discovered it's considered something of an "underdog" volume in the Tintin series by a lot of members. I had no idea I loved one of the least popular stories so much!

#20 · Posted: 24 Feb 2005 02:02
"The Castafiore Emerald" is definitely a good episode, but I've often almost forgotten about this story. I felt that this story was not as exciting as the other stories. There was no major struggle against an adversary ("The Shooting Star", "The Red Sea Sharks", etc.) or a clear quest for something ("Red Rackham's Treasure", "Tintin in Tibet", etc.). I'm not sure what the characters were after in this story, nor what goal they're trying to achieve. The twist surrounding "the thieving magpie" is only a minor part of the plot; by contrast, there are many more twists and turns in the other adventures. It is definitely a deviant Tintin story. Could have been a fine Tintin-who-is-done-with-his-adventures story, but that is not a Tintin adventure--even he makes an about-face in "Tintin and the Picaros". Definitely not a favorite adventure...

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