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New Tintin Movies: how Belgian should they be?

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#1 · Posted: 6 Jul 2004 11:45 · Edited by: jock123
I have been pondering this question, and thought I’d break it out of the leviathan movie thread.

I would love to see the films firmly based in a Belgian setting - Tintin walking the streets of Brussels - although I’d be happy to have them wander into France for location shooting at the Chateau de Cheverny (sp?) for Marlinspike... and thereby hangs my question...

Is it Marlinspike?? Would it not be better for it to be Moulinsart? Can it really be faithfully Belgian if they take over all the names and settings we are used to from the books in English?

Some characters it makes no real difference to – Tintin, Haddock, Nestor, Castafiore; some it is debatable - Wagg is as detestable being British as Lampion is being Belgian, and I think Calculus is a better name than Tournesol; but what of the Thom(p)sons/ Duponds? Would they not be more believable as Belgian detectives if they have their original names?

Then what of the issue of accents? Do you employ an all American cast, to play Belgians (I’m meaning the core characters, not ones obviously from other countries in the stories), or an all British cast, or what? Should they adopt some other accent? Or do you just have the best cast you can get, and ignore their individual accents in a sort of “one world” un-reality, so that if the actor who is Calculus is German, Tintin Belgian, Nestor French, the Detectives are Montenegran, Castafiore English, so be it - they all speak English with whatever accent they have, and nobody pays it any mind... Assuming it should be made in English...

Any thoughts?
#2 · Posted: 6 Jul 2004 12:29
To be honest I think we'll be lucky if it isn't set in modern day New York! But maybe they will just dub some voices for the Belgian releases?

I see it being more likely to be set in the English Tintin World if anything with perhaps a nod to his Belgian routes

Harrock n roll
#3 · Posted: 6 Jul 2004 13:23
Interesting points Simon. I have a feeling that it will be difficult to choose which names to use for the characters - if they use only the English translation names, the French speakers (which is really Tintin's largest fanbase) will be disappointed, whereas if they use the French names the English speaking fans will - and I would expect that the US would be the biggest market for the film, or at least the one they're mostly aiming at.

I prefer the name Calculus too, but that's probably because I'm so used to the English versions. And Castafiore simply must be Italian!
#4 · Posted: 6 Jul 2004 13:39
Maybe they will film two versions for certain scenes, lke they did for the first Harry Potter film, one for English and the other with the original names.

But a US film has got to have the USA as it's core marker, so i think we're looking at Calculus et al all the way

#5 · Posted: 6 Jul 2004 13:53 · Edited by: jock123
The point about the US is an interesting one, as it may mitigate against using the English book names.

If, as seems to be the case, Tintin is a largely unknown quantity to the vast majority of the American public, the film-makers could probably go for the original character/ location names without too many qualms, as this will be the introduction for most of them to the US public.

It certainly wouldn’t be of any advantage for the US market that the film is set in some curious Anglified Belgium hybrid, as shooting different versions suggests. It’s all abroad for someone in the States, so why not make it the original?

Of course, they may be perverse, and favour a movie about Kuifje, Bobbie and their friend Captain Sardine...!
#6 · Posted: 6 Jul 2004 14:51
I think the main target audience for a Hollywood film will be the US and then the usual follow-ons from there, so I think we'll see a Tintin film that will have to introduce the character to those who don't really know anything about him. I also think they'll take a few short-cuts and liberties with the character and world in order to make it as palatable as possible to as wide an audience as possible. I wouldn't be surprised if he's Americanised to at least some degree, probably quite a bit.

I don't mind this too much, it can be done well and it can be done badly. Unfortunately it is more usual to see it done badly (League of Extraordinary Gentleman, From Hell...).
#7 · Posted: 6 Jul 2004 15:34 · Edited by: jock123
I loved LXG, so I wouldn’t mind a bit if it came out like that!! Far less po-faced than Alan Moore’s rather pedestrian re-hash of ideas much better served by Kim Newman’s Anno Dracula books...! (A controversial notion I know, but Moore peaked with Watchmen to my mind - and even the end of that is pretty poor, compared to the start!)

My current fave model for how to do Tintin would be the recent French movie Bon Voyage. It is an espionage rom-com-thriller in the Hitchcock mode, with fabulous production values, and the look of a Hergé 40s/ 50s album. It shows to me that it would be quite possible to do a Euro-centric movie which would do justice to the books, without getting into a mega-bucks budget. If Spielberg were to produce, and allow those guys to get on with making the movies, I’d be a very happy camper!
#8 · Posted: 6 Jul 2004 17:08
Considering the current anti-French attitude of most Americans I think any film that celebrates anything even remotely to do with France would die at the box office

#9 · Posted: 6 Jul 2004 18:53 · Edited by: jock123
I wouldn’t know about “most” Americans, Rik – just a noisy portion of some of them, and I don’t think it would worry people if the movie was good…

...and with Mr. Spielberg attached, the chances are that foks would go to see it anyway – his success rate doesn’t seem to be related to the actual quality of the movies he puts out.

To go back to Garen’s point, any movie can be done well or done badly, and as our differing takes on League of Extraordinary Gentlemen show, when that happens is a matter of personal taste. I think the movie would lose much of what makes Tintin “Tintin”, if they pull it out of it’s setting, as supplied by Hergé. That is – all textual modifications by The Translators aside – Belgium. Hergé was drawing Brussels streets and city life, Belgian trains and telephone boxes.

What I still can’t get my head round is what I would do about the character- and linguistic hurdles...?
#10 · Posted: 6 Jul 2004 19:34 · Edited by: Jyrki21
You guys might want to give the U.S. audience a little more credit. There are some yahoos there, as there are everywhere, but a good movie will sell regardless of where it's set. The James Bond series has done just fine, for example, even though it's about foreign ol' England...

The real setback for Tintin is that he is a virtual unknown to this generation of American youth. Not because he's European so much as because he's not very current. So that means you either make a smaller-budget movie and look to please a smaller number very much, or else you say 'to hell with the youth' and gear it entirely at older viewers. (Though his following in the U.S. will still be much less ardent than in Europe, the schism won't be as great in the over-20 or over-30 crowd as it would be among kids).

If the movie is geared at youngsters, I imagine it would be changed beyond much recognition, as a lot of the modern comic book movies are. Much as I'm curious to see one, I think it has the real possibility of disappointing longtime Tintin fans and removing the series from their domain.

How would a Batman fanatic have felt when Tim Burton -- having already changed Batman's uniform entirely and erased Robin -- invented new stories about the Joker, or turned the Penguin from a tuxedo-clad gentleman to some kind of anthropomorphic bird-creature? And then having children growing up thinking this is Batman?

Well, expect the same with Tintin. If a movie is popular and geared at youth, you can be pretty sure a new generation of Tintin 'fans' will be spawned celebrating the new version of Hergé's creation, none of whom realize that Tintin is an asexual, plus-fours-wearing Belgian reporter... because you can bet he won't be in the movie!

But back to the content discussion... I wouldn't be shocked if the characters are given British accents, just because that is the tendency in U.S. films when a character isn't actually supposed to be North American. (I'm thinking of Russell Crowe in Gladiator, for example... why would it have been any less authentic for an ancient Roman to speak Australian English than British English? And yet...)

In any event, I guarantee the English names will be used... you're not going to have an anglophone Tintin shouting "Hey Professor Tournesol! I'll see you at Moulinsart"...

The country they're from will probably go unmentioned, as it usually does in the books.

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