I have eleven grandchildren, so I see plenty of children’s movies. I have acquired a jaundiced eye. As autumn leaves drift into piles, as souvenir teacups proliferate around a royal wedding, thus do crass, crude, cynical children’s movies pile up around the family DVD player.
Until now. The Adventures of Tintin is superb. Grandparents everywhere will babble tearful thanks: it’s so much better than it had to be, given the industry’s steadily decreasing quality (everywhere but Pixar-land). Credit must go to both of the stars at the helm, Peter Jackson (of The Lord of the Rings) and Steven Spielberg (of too many hits to mention), and to the new technologies (motion-capture animation, improved 3-D process). However, none of this would be here without the hero himself.
Tintin, the creation of the Belgian comic-strip artist known as Hergé (1907–1983), is a boyish newspaper reporter of remarkable courage, who travels the world in pursuit of stories that reliably expose him to life-threatening danger. He appeared first in a story called “Tintin in the Land of the Soviets,” in which the brave youngster went to the Soviet Union to report on the world Josef Stalin was building — a world of artificial famine, phony elections, and political assassination. These stories, originally created for a children’s supplement to the conservative Roman Catholic weekly Le XXe Siècle, were an instant success. Book-length collections have sold over 200 million copies in 50 languages. Up till now, Tintin has not been well known in the U.S., but get ready for that to change.
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