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“Unicorn” Movie: Does Tintin drink, or entertain?

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DarkSun
Member
#1 · Posted: 6 May 2012 18:28
I've been wondering why, in the movie Secret of the Unicorn, when Tintin returns home to find his flat ransacked, why there is a bottle of wine in his fridge?
He does not drink, so ... does he entertain?
skater95
Member
#2 · Posted: 7 May 2012 00:18
Well, he actually does drink occasionally in the comics but maybe he does keep it on hand in case someone comes over (Thompson and Thomson for example). Or maybe it's not wine at all, but mineral or tonic water instead.
DarkSun
Member
#3 · Posted: 7 May 2012 17:38
It looks like wine to me, but I think he has it more in the sense of entertainment. Had Haddock been around that time - like in the comic - the explanation would have been obvious ...
Balthazar
Moderator
#4 · Posted: 7 May 2012 17:57
DarkSun:
Had Haddock been around that time - like in the comic - the explanation would have been obvious ...

I don't know about that. In later books, Tintin seems pretty tolerant of Haddock's social drinking, but in those early Haddock books - including The Secret of the Unicorn - Tintin tends to be constantly vigilant in trying to help Haddock avoid alcohol altogether and I'm not sure he'd have got in a bottle of wine specifically for Haddock coming round to his flat.

Whereas, as skater95 points out, Tintin does drink wine and beer himself, especially in the early books (as any civilised European would!) and although Hergé never shows him having or drinking alcohol in his flat in the books, I don't think it's a completely inconceivable addition on the part of the filmmakers to imply that he might have a bottle of wine in the fridge to enjoy a glass with his evening meals.

It's spirits - whisky, gin, rum etc - that Tintin tends to avoid altogether (imminent Latin American firing squad situations excepted).
jock123
Moderator
#5 · Posted: 7 May 2012 19:26 · Edited by: jock123
My only contribution to this (being as I rarely drink, and never wine) is, would a Belgian social-drinker have kept a bottle of wine in the ’fridge in the forties or fifties?

I know you would have kept your wine cool, in a side-board or larder perhaps, if you didn’t actually have a cellar for the purpose, but to actually chill something other than Champagne in a refrigerator - was that done in those days?

I don’t know, and I could well be wrong, but I’ve a feeling it might be just a bit too Eighties…

Any sommeliers out there…?

Update: I’ve been having a root about on-line, and the advice there is that a domestic ’fridge is actually too cold to get the best out of your wine: red wine shouldn’t be served chilled at all, and white wine (if chilled) should be served at about 14°C - when a refrigerator operates between 1 and 8°C. Ideally (according to the sources I consulted) the wine should be chilled by being placed in an ice-bucket with ice for perhaps twenty minutes.
You could use a refrigerator to chill wine from room temperature to 14°C, but it takes about three hours - and you obviously wouldn’t just leave it in there.
The evidence would seem to suggest that Tintin must have had a guest coming…
DarkSun
Member
#6 · Posted: 7 May 2012 23:06
Good replies, I like the discussion. I find that Tintin drinks a beer willingly in the Black Island, but other occasions, usually when the pressure forces him to(land of the Soviets, Broken ear etc.), or, as in Crab with the Golden Claws, where he and Haddock get drunk quite by accident. There are a few books when some alcohol beverage is offered to Tintin and he replies "thanks, but I never touch alcohol" ... something to ponder ...

jock123:
The evidence would seem to suggest that Tintin must have had a guest coming…

I wonder who it was ... ;)
Balthazar
Moderator
#7 · Posted: 8 May 2012 16:25
DarkSun:
There are a few books when some alcohol beverage is offered to Tintin and he replies "thanks, but I never touch alcohol"

Are there actually any instances of him saying that, though? That's certainly a common perception about Tintin, but in the books it's specifically spirits he declines, telling the Lieutenant in The Crab with the Golden Claws that he doesn't drink spirits, and declining Captain Chester's offer of whisky in The Shooting Star. It's true that in that latter instance he requests a tonic water from Chester instead, rather than requesting a beer or a glass of wine, but I think that's necessary plotwise in order to set up the subsequent comedic sequence with Haddock's tonic water with a "thimbleful" of whisky, rather than being an indicator that Tintin has to have a completely non-alcoholic option.

Whereas, on inspection, there are actually quite a few instances in the books where Tintin is seen accepting or even ordering wine in order to enjoy consuming it.

In King Ottokars Sceptre, he orders a glass of szprodj (clearly a red wine from the way it's drawn and coloured) to have with his meal in the Syldavian restaurant, and it's clear from the difference in wine glass level between the first and last pictures of the bottom line of page 5 that he's drunk some of it while eating.

In The Shooting Star the picture on page 24 where only Tintin and Haddock remain at the dinner table, unaffected by seasickness, shows that Tintin is having a glass of wine along with Haddock (and everyone else before they had to retire to their bunks). And here I must correct my earlier assertion from a few posts back that Tintin tends to steer Haddock away from all alcohol in the early Haddock books. This scene shows that I was completely wrong about that!


In Land of Black Gold, Tintin accepts a glass of rosé wine from Oliviera on page 40, and I don't think this is only out of politeness. He's holding the glass as if to drink it at the point where Snowy finds the rat trap in the cupboard.

And in The Red Sea Sharks Tintin has a glass of wine at his place setting along with Haddock and Skut as they eat their post-rescue meal on Rastapopoulos's yacht on page 40. I suppose he may simply have allowed the waiter to pour it out of politeness, but to me it looks like part of the general pattern that Tintin finds it quite natural to have a glass of wine with his dinner.

For a Belgian of Tintin and Hergé's era (and quite possibly for your average Belgian today), I think having a glass of wine with meals, or in moderation with friends, would be completely normal and moral - culturally the done thing and biblically recommended, and completely distinct from the dangers and evils of over-indulgence of spirits.

So, to return to the question of this thread, I think it would be reasonably consistent for the movie version of Tintin to have bottle of wine in his flat simply for his own personal consumption on a one-glass-per-evening-with-main-meal basis. (Not that this rules out the guest possibility, of course.)

jock123:
would a Belgian social-drinker have kept a bottle of wine in the 'fridge in the forties or fifties?

jock123:
You could use a refrigerator to chill wine from room temperature to 14°C, but it takes about three hours - and you obviously wouldn't just leave it in there.
The evidence would seem to suggest that Tintin must have had a guest coming...

I think those are good points, but I think this might just be an instance of the modern American/New Zealand filmmakers unthinkingly giving modern fridge-use habits to a 1940s Belgian, rather than being a case of the filmmakers intentionally trying to imply to sharp-eyed viewers that Tintin was expecting a wine-drinking guest to arrive within the next three hours of the scene!

Also, if Tintin was drinking the wine by himself at a one-glass-per-evening rate he'd probably have to keep the opened and re-corked bottle in the fridge so that the wine stayed fresh all week, even if that meant compromising its ideal drinking temperature. (And actually, I think white wine tastes all right to most people at fridge temperature. Most people who drink white wine at that sort of rate with meals do keep a half-finished bottle in the fridge door pretty much permanently, don't they?)

jock123:
red wine shouldn't be served chilled at all

Yes, if the filmmakers have showed Tintin keeping a bottle of red wine in the fridge, Hergé will be spinning in his grave! (I believe there are a few reds that are specifically made to be drunk chilled, but I think this is a much more modern development.)
Harrock n roll
Moderator
#8 · Posted: 8 May 2012 18:56
Having just looked at the sequence from the film, my own view is that it might be bottle of wine, but it could just as easily be a bottle of olive oil, or anything in a green bottle. The bottle doesn't have a label, so there's nothing specific that marks it as wine.

I don't know about anybody else, but the fact that Tintin has a refrigerator at all in his flat troubles me slightly. Sure, people had fridges back then, but they weren't that commonplace, certainly not in Europe in the early 1940s. I don't think they were properly mass produced until after WWII, so it would be a very luxury item, wouldn't it, for a reporter living in a rented flat in Brussels?
DarkSun
Member
#9 · Posted: 8 May 2012 19:21
Balthazar:
Tintin finds it quite natural to have a glass of wine with his dinner.

I agree with that - French and Belgium have the wine with meals tradition!
mct16
Member
#10 · Posted: 8 May 2012 20:06
Harrock n roll:
refrigerator... would be a very luxury item, wouldn't it, for a reporter living in a rented flat in Brussels?

Which raises the issue of Tintin's financial situation.

I only drink low-alcohol beers myself, but I have had a bottle of rosé in my fridge for some time now. How it got there I do not remember but when I offered it to my parents they told me to keep just in case another visitor would enjoy drinking it.

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