It’s stupid. I was at the launch of the National Maritime Museum’s Tintin at Sea exhibition when there he was, in front of me: Tintin. Of course, it was a man dressed as the redoubtable boy reporter, suitably bequiffed in regulation plus-fours, clutching a fluffy toy Snowy dog under his arm. And I was nervous, as in the presence of one of my heroes. For a moment I cursed myself that I hadn’t thought to bring a book for him to sign. Which makes no sense on any level - this was a man dressed as a cartoon character.
Even though I have some trepidation about Steven Spielberg's adaptation, The Adventures of Tintin - particularly in terms of the 'dead eyes' - I feel a similar excitement about the film (pictured). The last week has seen a glut of online reviews, many of which reference the author Hergé's respect for Spielberg - as did an interview I did for October's Gulf Life magazine with expert Raphaël Taylor.
Spielberg first proposed to film Tintin in 1982, when the director was riding high on the success of Jaws and E.T. Hergé was keen for the project to move ahead but when, at the last moment, a clause was inserted in the deal whereby someone other than Spielberg could direct the movie, Hergé demurred. Nevertheless, Spielberg continued to renew an option on the material for the next two decades.
According to Pierre Assouline's biography of the writer (out now in paperback from OUP), Hergé was preoccupied with the matter on his deathbed: 'He said that he had been ready to give [Spielberg] the freedom to create even if he what created was no longer recognisably Tintin. He considered Spielberg a genius.'
Previews of The Adventures of Tintin begin today.