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Cigars of the Pharaoh: Why is Sarcophagus in India?

Die Schwarze Insel
Member
#1 · Posted: 30 Aug 2017 09:42
Hello,
I'm new to this forum. I'm Austrian, so my English is likely to be a bit odd (I'm always happy about corrections).
My question, which I couldn't find answered before in the forum, is: when Tintin meets Professor Sarcophagus again in India, why is the professor there?
Weren't the villains plotting to mummify him in the grave of the Pharaoh? So why did they change their plan and gave him the mad-making drug, and why on earth is he now in the jungle of India?
Mikael Uhlin
Member
#2 · Posted: 31 Aug 2017 16:50
Die Schwarze Insel:
When Tintin meets Professor Sarcophagus again in India, why is the professor there? Weren't the villains plotting to mummify him in the grave of the Pharaoh? So why did they change their plan and gave him the mad-making drug, and why on earth is he now in the jungle of India?
The real reason is of course that this is an early adventure created when Hergé more or less was improvising the story from one week to another.
However, in the present version of the story we can see that Allan Thompson picks up Sarcophagus in the Red Sea (page 12) shortly before recieving orders to head for India.
Apparently, the drug smuggling cartel has an Indian base in the area around Gaipajama (Rawhajpoutalah), which is where Sarcophagus ends up.
Then - for some really strange reason (actually Hergé improvising again) - Tintin happens to crash the Arabian plane he "borrowed" in exactly the same spot of the Indian subcontinent!
mct16
Member
#3 · Posted: 1 Sep 2017 00:27
Sarcophagus has always struck me as so eccentric that there did not seem to be much point in killing and mummifying him after his recapture by Alan. Besides mummification is a complex procedure and would have required an expert who was at the tomb where the smugglers were based.

Alan was headed for India anyway so it would have been simple enough to make Sarcophagus fully mad and then just abandon him in the jungle to his painting the symbol of Khi-Osh on the trees and the mercy of local animals.
jock123
Moderator
#4 · Posted: 12 Sep 2017 22:21
Mikael Uhlin:
Tintin happens to crash the Arabian plane he "borrowed" in exactly the same spot of the Indian subcontinent!

The Ellipse-Nelvana series manages to sort this out, and the other issues of coincidence, by inserting a bit more information into the scene where Tintin is in Colonel Fuad's office, looking for clues.
He finds documents which point to where in India the supply chain is located, and this is where he decides to head when he steals the 'plane; he is "reunited" with Sarcophagus in India, because that's where the whole operation was heading.
Roby
Member
#5 · Posted: 6 Apr 2022 05:01
[Moved from separate thread]

On a rereading I realized that this book contains a most unrealistic coincidence that somehow I always missed.

When Tintin steals the plane to escape Arabia and the plane crashes in an Indian jungle he finds professor Sarcophagus drawing on trees nearby. Tintin was not flying intentionally to that region and had no idea where the gang was, yet his plane randomly crashes right where the action was happening.

I find that one to weaken the story greatly. It's full of improbable events, but that outlandish coincidence is way out there.
I wonder why no attempts were made to rectify it when it was redrawn in 1955?
He could for example have received a tip that the gang was in India and he flew the escape plane in that general direction or something.
jock123
Moderator
#6 · Posted: 7 Apr 2022 10:55
Roby:
I wonder why no attempts were made to rectify it when it was redrawn in 1955?

I think that the answer is sort of contained in your post - it's an adventure of wild coincidence, and fantastical incidents all the way through, so fixing one would simply bring another to the fore, which then would probably have become the focus of reader dissatisfaction.

Had Hergé indicated that Tintin knew of the gang being in India, one's mind might be left to concentrate on the fact that he had managed to cover an impossible distance in a 'plane ill-equipped to undertake such a voyage.

However, you're not alone in wondering about this, so your post has been moved to this existing thread.

As Mikael says above, Hergé was improvising the story on a week-by-week basis, so it was just a means of continuing the story, rather than an actual attempt at plotting out a coherent adventure.

I'd also forgotten until I re-read it just now that I'd noted above that the Nelvana adaptation made an effort to darn that particualr plot-hole, by deftly inserting the clues that Tintin needed in the information he discovered in Fouad's office, to link the gang to a location India.

Hats off to them for that, and it does seem like something that Hergé could have done, had it occurred to him!
Mikael Uhlin
Member
#7 · Posted: 9 Apr 2022 12:11
jock123:
...the Nelvana adaptation made an effort to darn that particualr plot-hole, by deftly inserting the clues that Tintin needed in the information he discovered in Fouad's office, to link the gang to a location India. Hats off to them for that, and it does seem like something that Hergé could have done, had it occurred to him!

On page 26 in the colour album, just before finding the box of cigars, Tintin is looking at some papers which could have given him the relevant information (and I guess it's that scene that inspired the Nelvana adaptation).
Shivam302001
Member
#8 · Posted: 13 Sep 2022 13:46
Roby:
I find that one to weaken the story greatly. It's full of improbable events, but that outlandish coincidence is way out there.

This may be a lot of a stretch but I read somewhere that when the surface temperature over the Middle-East increases in summer, it creates a surface low pressure region in that area. It leads to anomalous cyclonic circulation with northerly and westerly winds over Persian Gulf and north Arabian Sea, which ultimately converges towards North-West India.

Now tailwinds rarely affect commercial aircrafts but in this case, Tintin's small aircraft could well have been affected by these winds, which he could have taken advantage of to fly faster and create a greater distance between his pursuers and himself and in the process, ultimately finding himself in NW India.

This doesn't explain why Tintin crashed at the near about spot where Sarcophagus was but it somehow narrows down the area, the rest of which could certainly be attributed to luck on Tintin's side.

Of course, this isn't what Herge had thought probably but it's fun to think about this anomaly in this way regardless.
jock123
Moderator
#9 · Posted: 18 Sep 2022 12:49
Shivam302001:
This may be a lot of a stretch

Oh, the crack team of boffins at Tintinologist Labs have taken the elasticity of many areas, such as this and this, and tested them to the limit and beyond before, so don't worry on that score!

I like your proposition, which as you say, proffers a solution for speed of travel; perhaps, in regard to the remaining target area question, Sarcophagus and the gang have been using the weather and air currents to speed their activities, and that's why they are where they are - Tintin just stumbled onto the anomoly that they had been exploiting?
Harrock n roll
Moderator
#10 · Posted: Today 10:44
Shivam302001:
Tintin's small aircraft could well have been affected by these winds, which he could have taken advantage of to fly faster and create a greater distance between his pursuers and himself and in the process, ultimately finding himself in NW India

I absolutely love this!

Re-reading the book, including the black and white edition, I thought it might have been possible that the 'Arabian Coast' where he alights with Oliveira da Figueira was much further east, perhaps off the eastern end of Oman (it's still classified as the Arabian Coast). This would have made it only a couple of hundred miles to India, even though which region of India is never really specified. But I noticed that in the black and white edition the town where he is mobilised and steals the light aircraft is actually supposed to be Mecca, much further west. This is quite a distance for a 1930s light aircraft. The winds are now the only feasible explanation!

Another interesting thing I noticed in the black and white edition is that Prof Sarcophagus isn't dumped in the sea in the coffin, like Tintin and Snowy are. So the original plan seems not to involve embalming the Professor at all. For what reason he's brought to India is unknown, but at the end of the black and white book Tintin wonders how the professor is related to the drugs gang. This would suggest Hergé was keeping and element of mystery about his involvement, perhaps he hadn't even fleshed out the story fully yet. The professor doesn't appear in The Blue Lotus so this pondering was dropped for the colour version.

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