I grew up with Tintin (pronounced Tantan in its language of origin, French and in Persian) and his little dog, Snowy (originally Milou). I can’t even recall the age at which I got my first book- in Persian, of course. These days, when I crack open my newly bought books and look at the illustrations, I’m instantly transported to some of the happiest memories of my life and to a time and place that are irreplaceable and unreachable.
I was born and lived in Iran until the age of 13, when I left it forever. I therefore, live with a strong sense of what I call “the lost years” effect. Unlike those who’ve lived a peaceful and stable life, mine has been lived in pieces and chapters that seem unrelated, fundamentally different in nature, tone and setting and are mostly out reach to me. I don’t have the luxury my husband has, for example, to simply get on a plane and go to the place where I was born and grew up in. He can show me the hospital where he was born, the elementary school he attended, and the house he lived in as kid. And when we visit his parents on the East Coast, we still sleep in the bed he had when he was a teenager. All that is missing from my life. I don’t have anywhere to return to or physical mementos of my childhood to look at or reminisce about. So, a big chunk of my life only exists inside my mind and in the bits and pieces of my memories.
Tintin is the subject of some my most cherished childhood memories.
As a kid, Tintin gave me my first introduction to comic books. Tintin and Snowy’s adventures were my favorite summer vacation reads. I remember long summer days when my mom would convience me to lay down for nap by promising to read Tintin to me. She would totally act out the scenes and give each character his or her own distinct voice and accent. Sometimes, I’d get so excited and preoccupied with the plot that instead of falling asleep, I’d jump up and start acting out chase scenes in my bedroom. Those summer afternoon reading sessions are my sweetest memories of me my mom.
But, Tintin was more than that. He was my friend, my cohort, my accomplice. I imagined myself his sidekick. Through his adventures, I learned about exotic destinations around the world. I dreamed of underwater adventures, amazing lost treasures, glamorously bejeweled opera singers, mysterious spies, bumbling detectives, colorfully loud-mouthed sea captains and excentric scientists. If there was one force that fed my young imagination and fueled my daydreams, it was Tintin.
So, it was with an almost childish glee that I trekked to my local cineplex last night at the strike of midnight to see Steven Spielberg’s The Adventures of Tintin. I had been waiting to see this movie ever since I’d heard about Spielberg’s buying the rights and plans to make my childhood stories into a movie. Nothing was going to stop me. And, I’m glad I was unstoppable.
There were only seven of us in the theater, but that didn’t stop us from having a grand old time. We even had our very own live Tintin in the audience which, I admit, made me misty-eyed. The film is beautifully illustrated and very faithful to the original drawings of Herge’. The opening sequence alone is filled with many quintessential images from many, if not all, of the books. And through the movie, the die-hard fans will spot many iconic images straight from the books of their childhood come to life on the screen. I sat next to two college age guys who giggled every time an original dialogue or image was reproduced in the movie. And I giggled right along with them.
After having lived almost all my life with “the lost years” effect, feeling like all the artifacts of my childhood had been lost forever, it was an amazing experience sitting in that theater and being reunited with my adventurous friend and his trusty and loyal little dog. It was also very healing.
I crept into bed at around 2:30 in the morning, trying not wake up my husband. And as I turned the lights out and snuggled next to my little dog, Stella, I transformed into an eight-year-old, too excited to sleep. In my mind, I was Tintin’s cohort again, reliving the chase scenes of the movie. In the morning, when I woke up, I knew that I had spent the entire night dreaming of my adventures with Tintin, Snowy and Captain Haddock. It was exceptional to wake up feeling as happy as a child I once was.
Go see it. It’s magical.