May 18, 2007

Tintin and the Auteur Theory

My friend Todd Pruzan spotted my recent post about the Tintin films and we got into an IM chat about who should direct what. That led, as these things tend to among super geeks, to each of us composing a list of our dream directors for each book. Here they are with the caveat that we dashed them off pretty quickly, and each of us wanted to change our minds about certain choices after seeing the other's list. My picks are first, followed by Todd's in parentheses. I skipped Congo, which I'm not too familiar with. Todd paired sequels with the same director.

Tintin in the Congo – none (Francis Ford Coppola)
Tintin in America - Curtis Hanson (Jim Jarmusch)
Cigars of the Pharaoh - Steven Spielberg (Pedro Almodovar)
Blue Lotus - Michael Mann (Wong Kar-Wai)
The Broken Ear - Doug Liman (Fernando Meirelles)
The Black Island - Christopher Nolan (Michael Winterbottom)
King Ottokar's Sceptre - Roman Polanski (Steven Soderbergh)
The Crab with the Golden Claws - Mike Newell (Alejandro González Iñárritu)
The Shooting Star - Peter Jackson (Michel Gondry)
Secret of the Unicorn - Steven Soderbergh (Ang Lee)
Red Rackham's Treasure - Werner Herzog (Ang Lee)
The Seven Crystal Balls - Sam Raimi (Peter Jackson)
Prisoners of the Sun - James Cameron (Peter Jackson)
Land of Black Gold - Peter Weir (Martin Scorsese)
Destination Moon - Joss Whedon (Ridley Scott)
Explorers on the Moon - Ridley Scott (Ridley Scott)
The Calculus Affair - Martin Scorsese (The Coen Brothers)
Red Sea Sharks - Quentin Tarantino (Claire Dénis)
Tintin in Tibet - Wong Kar-Wai (Lars von Trier)
Castafiore Emerald - Whit Stillman (Woody Allen)
Flight 714 - Clint Eastwood (David Lynch)
Picaros - Alfonso Cuaron (Alfonso Cuarón)

In case you're wondering, Cuaron doing Picaros was the one that came up in our chat before we started our list, which is why we both picked that. I can't think of a better match. In general I consciously went with more commerical directors. For the most part, these are action films that should be treated that way. But I love Todd's pick of Gondry for Shooting Star and the Coen bros. for Calculus Affair. Also, I hadn't thought of Coppola, but he'd be great for Tintin in America (though the Apocalypse Now allusion in Todd's choice is delicious).

I'm least satisfied with having resorted to Tarantino for Red Sea Sharks. That's the film that gave me the most trouble. I really wanted Robert Altman for Castafiore Emerald but there was a hitch with that. I also considered David O. Russell, but only if we can get Lilly Tomlin to gain 100 pounds to play Bianca Castafiore.

Geek away in the comments.

Posted by Daniel Radosh


"I really wanted Robert Altman for Castafiore Emerald but there was a hitch with that."

Whereas you'll have no trouble bringing the others to pass?

Cigars of the Pharoahs is a crafty story that doesn't give away the identity of the villain, though you can discern it if you look carefully enough. I don't think Spielberg is capable of making a movie that doesn't hold the viewer's hand & spell everything out.

Maybe Christopher Nolan instead?

Jesse - Good point. Actually that's why I assigned Nolan to the Black Island (that plus the moody atmosphere). But I did regret that I'd already given Spielberg a film by the time I got to Prisoners of the Sun, which is the most Indiana Jones of the Tintin books, so let's move him there and give Cigars to... hmm. Do you think Shayamalan can redeem himself? Or handle the epic scope?

I don't think Shayamalan could resist turning the twist into an explicit twist ending...

Are we limited to living directors?

Todd and I limited ourselves to working directors. Otherwise, Hitchcock could direct half the films and David Lean and John Ford the rest. But as Rubrick observes, we may be overestimating our clout in the Industry.

I say bring Hitchcock and Hawks back from the dead and let them divide the films among themselves. And give Land of the Soviets to Eisenstein, just for kicks.

Hawks would be great, wouldn't he? I actually think this gets at why the films are probably going to suck, beside the fact that, as I noted before, there doesn't seem to be any reason for them. (Who has ever read a Tintin book and said, I wish this were a movie?)

The spirit of the books dates from an earlier narrative era, one that possibly could have been translated by the great formalist directors of the 30s, 40s and 50s but that can only be undermined by today's filmmakers. And directors who try to recapture that earlier style end up making crap like The Good German or [insert your least favorite Brian De Palma film here].

Lars von Trier directing "Tintin in Tibet" would be a huge disaster. He'd end up changing the plot so that the yeti sexually abuses Tintin, who loses both of his arms to frostbite and eats Snowy to survive.

Land of Black Gold isn't aquatic enough for Peter Weir. Give him Rackham and give Cuaron Black Gold.

In America: Leone

If a bone would be thrown to Belgium, which one would be best for Remy Belvaux?

In spite of my suggestions I like that you limited yourselves to working/living directors. It makes me feel more like it's happening.

I say we reanimate Preston Sturges to direct "The Castafiore Emerald".

yes. Sturges perfect for CE

fun to imagine what Billy Wilder would do with one...say, Tintin in America.

So, if I buy one Tintin book, which should it be?


Jim - Let me get back to you on that.

Tintin in Tibet is my favorite.

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