Tintin on Screen

Last revised: 28 November 2011.
Latest changes: added the new Tintin movie released in 2011.

Television productions

Belvision series [1959] - the first television version of The Adventures of Tintin
First broadcast: 1961

Description: a long series of 104 breathless five-minute episodes, complete with cliffhanger endings. Selected Tintin books were adapted for the small screen: The Crab with the Golden Claws, The Shooting Star, Secret of the Unicorn, Red Rackham's Treasure, Black Island, Destination Moon, Explorers on the Moon, and The Calculus Affair.

UK version: first appeared in 1962 dubbed in English by Peter Hawkins (who also provided voices for Captain Pugwash and Doctor Who's Daleks).

Trivia: The title sequences of the Belvision cartoons are always different. Sometimes the sequences are so short you can hardly notice them. The adventure just starts.

Nelvana series
First broadcast: 1992

Description: the most faithful and perhaps the most commercially successful adaptation of twenty Tintin stories to date. The series, co-produced by Ellipse and Nelvana, in cooperation with the Hergé Foundation, consists of 39 (two-part) episodes, each of of 26 minute duration. The series is available in in English and French.

Movies for the Cinema

Tintin movies made so far:

  1. Les Beaux Films' slides of existing albums [1946]
  2. Publicity film for Tintin magazine [1946] - By Claude Misonne ­ Using puppet animation. Full feature shown on TV in Belgium/France.
  3. The Crab with the Golden Claws [Belgium 1947]
  4. L'Oreille Cassée / The Broken Ear [1957–58] - By Karel Van Millegham / Anne-Marie Ullmann. Full feature shown on TV in Belgium/France.
  5. Le Sceptre d'Ottokar / King Ottokar's Sceptre [1958 (?)] - By Karel Van Millegham / Anne-Marie Ullmann. Full feature shown on TV in Belgium/France.
  6. On a Marché sur la Lune / Explorers on the Moon [ 1959 (?)] - By Yvan Szücs. Full feature shown on TV in Belgium/France.
  7. Tintin and the Golden Fleece / Le Mystère de la toison d'or [1961]
  8. Tintin and the Blue Oranges / Tintin et les Oranges Bleues [1964]
  9. Prisoners of the Sun [1969]
  10. Tintin and the Lake of Sharks / Tintin et le lac aux requins [1972]
  11. The Adventures of Tintin (also known as The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn) [2011] Read film review

Regarding the cinema adaptations of Tintin, here is an extract from L'Internationale Tintin - Chapitre VI : Le patron (1953-1959) in Hergé, Fils de Tintin by Benoît Peeters:

"It is down to the author to take his adventures to the theatre, using puppets, or in the form of an operetta. The stories also enjoy huge success thanks to the radio serials, followed by LPs. Raymond Leblanc, to whom Hergé had given up his rights to derivative material, is never one to miss an opportunity. In 1957, whilst French television is still in its infancy, 'The Adventures of Tintin', produced in a "semi-animated" style—and in black and white—narrated by Jean Nohain, the star of the time. This does not result in actual animated cartoons, as such, yet they still appear on television. Fearing (and not without due cause) that his characters might be rendered unrecognisable, Hergé calls in the services of Greg as scriptwriter, to work alongside the Hollywood workhorse Charles Shows; yet even that will not prevent the series taking enormous liberties, on the narrative as well as graphic front.

At the same time, the pressures of adaptation increased with the prospect of a Tintin film aimed at the big screen. Certain projects never got off the ground, such as that of Cousteau, who wanted to film 'Red Rackham's Treasure', by building a full-size version of Calculus' submarine. But in 1957, a young producer with a passion for travel named André Barret sympathises with Hergé, and succeeds in overcoming his reservations about a live-action film. Barret wants to write an original scenario, to be filmed in Japan; Hergé is leaning more toward an adaptation of an existing album: he proposes 'The Seven Crystal Balls', which he considers to be "the most cinematographic of the Tintin albums". Barret approaches a number of talented young directors, beginning with Alain Resnais, who was to work on the first film : a long-time fan of comic strips, he dreamt of filming 'The Black Island' entirely in a studio; sadly, the project was judged too expensive. Philippe de Broca, equally capable, ultimately turns the project down. An adventure film without a single female character does not appeal to him.

After a number of comings-and-goings, the scenario of 'The Mystery of the Golden Fleece' is developed: Remo Forlani is the principal scriptwriter, but Hergé makes his viewpoint clear, analysing in minute detail the different versions of the script. The story, which will ultimately take place in Istanbul, is fairly close to the spirit of the albums. However, the most difficult challenge is still to be overcome: finding a young man capable of playing Tintin. A huge publicity campaign is launched: André Barret meets hundreds of candidates, but none of them convince him. It is finally Chantal Rivière, the daughter of Ginette Van Melkebeke, who discovers Jean-Pierre Talbot on an Ostende beach.

Despite its honourable intentions, neither 'The Mystery of the Golden Fleece', nor (above all) 'Tintin and the Blue Oranges', produced three years later, succeed in recreating the magic of Hergé's albums. A short while afterward, with 'L'Homme de Rio', Philippe de Broca produces a quasi-adaptation of 'The Broken Ear' which, thanks to its rhythm and the presence of Belmondo, succeeds where literal adaptations had failed."

[English translation by Richard Wainman. Full reference: Peeters, B. Hergé, Fils de Tintin. 1st ed. Paris: Flammarion, 2002, pp. 377–379.]

Short films / Documentaries

I, Tintin / Moi, Tintin
Year: 1976

Documentary based on Gérard Valet's interview with Hergé

Tintin - Hollywood Moulinsart: Tintin and Cinema
Year: unknown

Documentary series exploring why it is so difficult to adapt Tintin's adventures for the big screen. [Runtime: 52 minutes].

Tintin - The secret of the Ligne Claire
Year: unknown

The French documentary examines Hergé's artistic style from a number of angles. [Runtime: 15 minutes]

Tintin et moi
Year: 2003

Tintin et Moi

Documentary based on Numa Sadoul's interview with Hergé in 1971. Danish production. [Runtime: 75 minutes] - the film received Honourable Mention in 2004 at the Canadian International Documentary Film Festival.

Belvision: La mine d'or au bout du couloir...
Year: 2003

Belvision la mine d'or au bout du couloir...

Belgian production. [Runtime: 48 minutes 48 seconds]. Read review by Chris Owens.

Opening Shot: Tintin
Year: 1994

A documentary produced by London Weekend Television on Tintin and Hergé. Primarily featuring Harry Thompson, this episode of Opening Shot also includes interviews with Leslie Lonsdale-Cooper and Michael Turner along with some rare archival footage of Hergé speaking English. [Runtime: 26 minutes]

Addition note: The Executive Producer of the Opening Shot series was Melvyn Bragg and the series was sort of a counterpart to his South Bank Show, only aimed at younger viewers. [Information courtesy of P. Mahler. 02-Nov-2004.]