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News
Oct 14th 2015

Tintin Faced His Greatest Challenge

It would be the Himalayas, which Hergé called his favorite adventure. The daring reporter did it after Edmund Hillary's historic ascent to the summit of Mount Everest in 1953. This mountain range, where some of the world's highest peaks are found, can be threatening. And Tintin found footprints, which could be the Yeti's. But it won't humiliate him for a lifetime. How about opera?

The operatic version of "The Castafiore Emerald" opened in Chateau de La Hulpnear Brussels on September 18. It ended its run on the 28th, and would move to France afterwards. This was the fourth appearance of Bianca Castafiore, an opera singer whose voice could shatter glass. And Georges Remi, the real name of Hergé, didn't set his story in an exotic location far from Europe. Fans also found out about Capatin Barnacle's misogynist views, but he might not stand Castafiore's voice for a minute.

"Hergé was a genius, a true visionary," said director Francois de Carpentries.

This was Hergé's most musical book, he added. It was a dream came true for him, and maybe for Hergé.

Scarface in the jungle

The operatic version of "The Castafiore Emerald" was the latest adaptation of Hergé's book. Someone did a stage production of another book, while another thought of a classical musical suite. Steven Spielberg also made a film based on three of Hergé's albums. It was a testament to the popularity of the Belgian's works, which wasn't the case back then.

"Tintin in the Congo" was published without much fanfare in 1929, only to be criticized decades later. Tintin and his beloved Snowy, a fox terrier, sailed to Africa. Remi's impression of Africa wasn't different from the mindset of the middle class in Belgium. They have a high regard of the Belgian royalty. They were ignorant of the places beyond Europe, believing the Africans need scientific enlightenment. Indeed, the illustrations in "Tintin in the Congo" showed the Africans as primates. And the safari could be another amusement park.

Remi might also be forgiven for choosing an inappropriate adversary for Tintin. Al Capone found himself in the wild, hoping to turn the continent into his playground. But there were no rules in the jungle. The author thought of setting the reporter's first adventure in America, but it was rather tamed. "Tintin in the Land of the Soviets" brought the Belgian instant success. His star reporter never slowed down ever since.

In the era of political correctness, 'Tintin in the Congo" could be a disgrace. But it had its merits. Tintin, known for his quiff hairstyle, had a good heart. It won him admirers. Snowy had his own adventure, not having an idle moment on the ship. (He had to contend with a talking parrot.) And the bush tribes could teach the white settlers a thing or two. If someone is bold enough to handle criticisms, then an operatic version of "Tintin in the Congo" might turned out to be memorable. Imagine Snowy singing "Hakuna Matata"...





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