The Adventures of Tintin Movie Review

by Stacey Tuttle
I won’t try to summarize the movie plotline here.  (I actually thought it was pretty well
introduced in this review if you need a little background.)  I will instead focus on Captain Haddock, the oft drunk, under-achieving Captain who transforms into a relatively wise and responsible adult throughout the adventure[1].

In the beginning, Haddock tries to justify his drinking to the idealistic young Tintin.  Haddock suffers from being in the shadow of a great relative.  His relative was a famous captain whose exploits were the stuff of legend.  While Haddock has followed in his great relative’s steps and himself become a captain, he nevertheless feels he will never be able to be the man his ancestor was.  His need to equal or best his relative is
like a debilitating disease.  Rather than become the best he can be, he has become essentially nothing at all, nothing but a drunkard.  Whiskey has become for him both his debilitation and his means of coping with his debilitation.  It’s a vicious cycle.  He’s always drunk so he’s done nothing noteworthy with his life, but because he’s done nothing noteworthy, he is depressed and drinks to feel better— thus perpetuating the cycle.

Something begins to change in Haddock, however, when he gets wrapped up in the adventure with Tintin.  I think it’s possible that Tintin’s character and optimism began to rub off on Haddock.  I think the greater reason though is that when Haddock realized that he is in the center of a great adventure, he suddenly began to have hope that his life could count for something great just like his ancestor’s had.  Life began to feel big, important, significant where once it was dull, unimportant and small,[2] and it gave him hope and courage—even his way of thinking about the world began
to change.

We can see his thoughts changing when the roles begin to reverse between Haddock and Tintin.  Tintin, ever the optimist, had been pushing Haddock all along.  Suddenly, Tintin hit a wall and got discouraged.  He felt it was hopeless.  Haddock questions him, “I thought you were an optimist?”  “I’m not,” he replies, “I’m a realist.”  Haddock
immediately challenges that statement, “That’s just another name for a quitter.  You hit a wall, you push through it.”  The only reason Haddock could say that is that he felt hope.  He thought there was something on the other side of the wall…something worth pushing for…something besides just more wall.

Later he passionately cautions Tintin about the kind of thoughts he should never think about himself.  He warns, “There are plenty of people willing to call you a failure, a loser… [etc.]  Don’t you ever think them about yourself.”  That’s a little bit ironic from a man who earlier said he drank because he could never be like his ancestor.  Ironic, and yet he knows of what he speaks.  He had done just that.  He had believed all of the negative that anyone else had ever said about him.  He thought he was a failure before he’d even tried.  He thought it was hopeless.  It was bad enough that others thought that of him, but he thought it of himself, and it became a self-fulfilling prophecy for a time.

Haddock knew how dangerous it could be to let those kinds of thoughts into your mind.  He didn’t want Tintin to fall into the same trap that he had.

There are two keys to avoiding the pit that Haddock was in (the same for getting out of it once you’re in it).  The first is to “take captive every thought and make it obedient to Christ.”[3] This is why Haddock says not to even think those thoughts.  Our thoughts have power to affect our emotions. We need to guard them carefully.  How do you know if your thoughts are good or bad?  Try this little litmus test:  “whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy— think on such things.”[4]

The second key is hope. Haddock found hope in his adventure that his life might actually be significant.  So, maybe I should say the key is value instead?  I read this great quote in Graham Cooke’s The Language of Promise[5] where he talks about people’s worth.  He writes, “Jesus knew that whatever He spoke to would rise up in people.  Humanity  always speaks to the earthen vessel, noting every crack, flaw and warp…[God] speaks to the treasure in a person and
releases it from the captivity of the flesh. He extracts the precious from the worthless…  When people see their own
worth, they get rid of their own carnality.”[6] I love that!  When people feel the hope that they have worth, they begin to act like they have worth, they begin to treat themselves as if they see themselves as valuable.  No longer are they content to live with their own trash.

When Captain Haddock began to feel he had worth he began to act differently.  He began to think differently.  Not only did he think better things and do better things, but he was also repulsed by the thought of the things he had formerly done and thought…and been completely fine with.  It wasn’t just that he added better things, but he exchanged.  It’s like flying on an airplane and getting an upgrade.  You don’t keep your old seats and get new ones…you exchange the old ones for the new ones.  You don’t even want the old ones anymore.  Similarly, a butterfly no longer wants to act
like a caterpillar once it sees that it’s become a butterfly.  It is happy to give up crawling for flying.

Haddock was right, there are plenty of beings in the world (both physical and spiritual) who would tell you that you are a failure, a loser, have no worth, are insignificant…  But Jesus doesn’t think that about you at all.  Jesus loved you enough to give his life for you.  We are bought with the price of Jesus’ very blood.  The worth of a thing is determined by what people are willing to pay.  Surely, the fact that Jesus paid for us with his life gives you some inclination of just how valuable you really are.  Let that be the hope that inspires you to begin to take out your own trash.  And while you’re taking out the trash, you might start with your mind, getting rid of any thoughts that don’t belong and aren’t obedient to Christ.  That one little thing will do more to get you out of the pit and keep you from it than you can  magine.

Questions for Discussion:

  • Why do you think Captain Haddock began to change?  (You know, in case you don’t think my analysis was brilliant and thorough!)
  • Do you ever feel overwhelmed by someone that you are compared to (and can’t live up to)…an ancestor, a parent, a sibling, a friend, a teammate, a classmate…etc.?  How do you respond to that?
  • Do you struggle to feel like you have value/worth/that you are special/that your life matters?
  • Do you feel like generally, if you listened to what others said about you, you would be encouraged or discouraged?
  • Have you ever tried to take your thoughts captive?
  • How do your thoughts about yourself and your life match up with the guidelines in Philippians?  (True, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent, praiseworthy)
  • Do you believe that you have worth in God’s eyes?  Do you think that if you could really trust that (that you are valuable to the one who made you), that it would make a difference to how you see yourself?

Check out quotes from the movie here!

[1] I would here like to question the appropriateness of having a drunkard for a main character in an animated children’s movie.  I suspect the response of some would be that movie wasn’t aimed at children, but more at tweens.  My question might still remain, but it does provide some interesting room for discussion with your tween about alcohol, it’s effects, how it’s portrayed, etc.

[2] Ironically, I just wrote about this idea of big and small days in the War Horse review – check it out here.

[3] 2 Corinthians 10:5


[5]Great little book – also available in e-book form!

[6] Sovereign World ltd, Kent England, p37.