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Tintin Review

January 9, 2012

Unlike most young Americans, I had actually heard of Tintin before the movie. Two of my younger brothers grew up with Tin Tin after a favorite babysitter introduced them to the Tintin comics. They were hooked and naturally I had seen the books lying around but I had never read them, mostly because of the prejudice that there was a boy on the cover.

So when The Adventures of Tintin came out, I was excited to see it with my brothers. But really, I wanted to see The Hobbit trailer on the big screen. If you haven’t seen that, give yourself a good slap then click here.

Somehow, we were late for the movie and I missed The Hobbit trailer :( But TinTin was so charming that after a few minutes I didn’t mind. And by the end, I had laughed quite a lot (which is a big deal for me) and was analyzing how the plot was constructed. Tintin is a fantastic adventure story. And the animation, which I thought would bug me like crazy, surprisingly didn’t. They paid homage to the original style while truly making it their own. And perhaps it’s because I knew it was a comic first but I thought the comic style came across in the story telling, which I liked. Smart writing, good acting, fun to watch visually. I highly recommend it.

Now I won’t go into huge detail about the story in case you haven’t seen it (likely) but I want to share an interesting plot tool I noticed and it really only involves the first twenty minutes of the movie.

There might be a name for this but I don’t know it so I’m going to call it the It Could Have Been Worse tool. In the first scene, Tintin buys a model of a three-masted, two deck, fifty gun ship called The Unicorn. He takes it home and accidentally drops it, breaking the main mast. A small roll of paper falls out and is lost behind his desk. Through events, he learns of the model’s value and goes to the library to investigate. When he returns, he finds his ship is missing.

Tintin is distressed over losing the ship. This raises tension and gives us something to worry about as an audience. However, as it turns out, the ship being stolen is what causes Tintin to find the roll of paper, which is the clue that starts off his grand adventure (as Tintin always has a grand adventure). So while Tintin was distressed about the model breaking (it being very valuable) if it hadn’t broken, the thief who stole it would have gotten the clue. It could have been worse.

Tintin’s wallet is stolen. This causes him great distress because it has the clue he got from the model of The Unicorn. However, Tintin is later kidnapped and because his wallet was stolen earlier, his kidnappers are unable to get the clue from him. Yet again. So his wallet getting stolen becomes a good thing. While it isn’t a desirable situation, it could have been worse and Tintin is better off because of it.

I find this plot tool brilliant. We’re keeping the emotions high while winding the gears of later plot payoffs. Plus, you’re distressing not only your main character but the antagonists as well. Double bonus!

I was actually trying to do something similar in my current project but I didn’t have a frame to put to it. Now it’s going to be much easier to write as I know what I’m doing. So go watch movies. Wonderful writing research.

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