Tintin enters the third dimension
Updated: 2011-11-17 10:21
By Wang Kaihao (China Daily)
Tintin and Snowy in Steven Spielberg's 3D film The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn. Provided to China Daily
Steven Spielberg's 3D film based on the 82-year-old child-turned-reporter comic book character reinvigorates nationwide nostalgia. Wang Kaihao reports.
The pint-sized snoop out to get the scoop is traveling to the mainland's silver screens on Tuesday - this time in 3D, courtesy of US director Steven Spielberg. That's five weeks before the North American premiere of The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn, the latest take on the 82-year-old The Adventures of Tintin comic series. The original 23 albums by Belgian animator Georges Remi (1907-1983) - better known by his pseudonym, Herge - have been translated from French into about 70 languages as Tintin's acclaim spread around the globe. Spielberg's 3D version is the completion of his dream of creating a motion picture about Tintin - a vision born on the day of Herge's death. Spielberg was captivated by the exploits of the child who becomes an investigative journalist, traveling the world hot on the heels of conniving criminals.
The film is adapted from Herge's 11th album, The Secret of the Unicorn, in which Tintin does battle with the descendant of a pirate to find a lost ancient treasure.
This trip around the globe has earned Tintin - or at least his brand - $160 million between its Oct 22 Belgium debut and last week, Box Office Mojo reports.
Chinese fans, such as 16-year-old Chengdu, Sichuan province, native Dai Yunpeng, are more than eager for the film to come to a theater near them.
"Tintin shows persistence, discipline, courage and selflessness, all of which are lacking among my generation," Dai says.
Dai has remained active on online fan forums devoted to Tintin after becoming a fan when a classmate gave him the fifth album, The Blue Lotus, for his birthday in 2006.
The Blue Lotus is set in 1930s' Shanghai and revolves around Tintin's uncovering of a Japan drug syndicate.
The album has remained the favorite of many Chinese since it was introduced in the magazine Lianhuan Huabao in the early '80s.
For those older than Dai, Tintin takes them back to the days of their youth.
Anyang, Henan province, office worker Wang Xiaomiao recalls reading the comics when she was laid up in hospital with a broken leg at age 13 in 1989.
"Tintin's inspiring stories drove away my loneliness and eased my pain," the 35-year-old says.
"Tintin was my buddy, who accompanied me day and night and helped me overcome the tough times."
Hearing about the movie's release makes her again think about the series, only one album of which she still has from her childhood. So, she plans to once again buy the entire set.
Wang's nostalgia is common among Chinese born in the late 1970s and early '80s, when entertainment media from the West had just started trickling in and the pickings were slim.
"Traditional Chinese comics were homilies then," 34-year-old Wu Yuan recalls.
"It was startling to see a comic like Tintin in China. It's like when a color TV channel appears on a black-and-white TV set."
The real estate worker in Beijing recalls saving his pocket money to buy Tintin comics since he read his first in 1983. It took him six years to collect the entire volume, he says.
"The happiness I got from buying a new copy then was greater than I get from getting my paycheck now," he says.
"Children today can't understand that, because they can easily buy the whole series with one purchase."
It's likely the copies Chinese read then were illegal. The copyright holder never approved mainland publication until rights were given to China Children's Press &Publishing Group in 2001, Li Tong, an editor with the group, says.
That matters little to the country's fans.
"Tintin is not just a comic book but also a part of the lives we lived and an anchor for our memories," Wu says.
Li says a miniature Tintin theme park is to be constructed in a building near Beijing's Jianguomen area.
Other incarnations of the national Tintin fad are materializing.
A play script and books about the Tinin movie were published on Tuesday, and Dangdang.com has sold more than 1,000 complete volumes in the country in the past two weeks.
Those who own old copies are digging them out of storage. Film review website Mtime.com organized an event on Saturday to celebrate the film's screening and exhibit fan paraphernalia.
Beijing University of Technology employee Li Zhouhui brought to the event a heavy bag of Tintin comics and biographies of the author that he has collected over 15 years. The black-and-white pages are scribbled with color, and handwritten notes are scrawled in the margins.
"I research the stories' historical and cultural contexts, which has expanded my horizons of knowledge," he says.
"That was much harder to do back when Internet access was a luxury."
Li has long anticipated new portrayals of Tintin but has mixed feelings about the 3D IMAX film.
"I'm not sure the hypermodern style fits Tintin," he says.
"I will always love the old versions with simple images. They are treasures from our innocent years."