The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn – Music from the Motion Picture (a J!-ENT World Groove Album Review)
December 12, 2011 by Dennis Amith
John Williams managed to capture an uplifting, adventurous Odyssey in his music for “The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn – Music from the Motion Picture” with great efficacy. If you love the film or enjoyed the comic series, you will definitely love this magnificent, adventurous soundtrack from the great American composer, John Williams.
TITLE: The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn – Music from the Motion Picture
LABEL: Sony Classical
RELEASE DATE: December 13, 2011
- The Adventures of Tintin
- Snowy’s theme
- The Secret o the Scrolls
- Introducing the Thompsons and Snowy’s Chase
- Marlinspike Hall
- Escape from the Karaboudjan
- Sir Francis and the Unicorn
- Captain Haddock Takes the Oars
- Red Rackham’s Curse and the Treasure
- Capturing Mr. Silk
- The Flight to Bagghar
- The Milanese Nightinggale
- Presenting Bianca Castafiore/Renee Fleming
- The Pursuit of the Falcon
- The Captains Counsel
- The Clash of the Cranes
- The Return to Marlinspike Hall and Finale
- The Adventure Continues
Back in 1929, Belgian artist Georges Remi aka “Hergé”, would create a comic book series titled “Les Adventures de Tintin” (The Adventures of Tintin) which was first published in the Belgian Newspaper “Le XXe Siecle”.
The comic book series would prove to be successful that it was made into several books, led to a Tintin magazine and also received adaptations for film, radio, television and theater.
In fact, the comic book series was so popular that it appeared in many countries worldwide in more than 80 languages and over 350 million copies of the books were sold worldwide.
While an animated television series was shown in the U.S. back in the early 90′s, Steven Spielberg who was a fan of the comic series acquired the rights to “The Adventures of Tintin” following Herge’s death in 1983 and re-optioned in 2002. Filming began in 2008 and together with producer Peter Jackson (“The Lord of the Rings” trilogy), will be releasing the first film titled “The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn” in Dec. 2011.
The film is an American performance captured 3D film that is based on the three original comic books: “The Crab with the Golden Claws”, “The Secret of the Unicorn” and “Red Rackham’s Treasure”.
Interesting is the fact that Spielberg has two films coming out in December in the U.S., “The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn” and “War Horse” and keeping up with tradition, collaborating with composer John Williams (known for composing the “Star Wars”, “Indiana Jones”, “Harry Potter” films) and who has worked with Spielberg for 40-years.
The film is Spielberg’s first animated film that he had directed and the first one John Williams had scored. And for Williams, the goal was to go for a more traditional sound.
“The Adventures of Tintin” features an adventurous Belgian reporter named Tintin who goes on adventures with his white fox terrier named Snowy. The cases he takes on are typically dangerous and is often seen saving the day. Joining Tintin is his best friend Captain Archibald Haddock, a respectable character who does things without thinking at times.
And then there are the two bumbling detectives named Thomson and Thomson who are the comical relief of the series that are often after Tintin (as he is always in the middle of a crime scene in some way or form) or the criminals.
For the composition, John Williams went for a more jazzy score which actually fits the style of “The Adventures of Tintin”. I have read the comic books and have watched and also reviewed the animated series. Because the film takes place in Europe (note: the movie has not come out in America at this time but the comic and animated series had Tintin also going to Asia, so I’m not sure if that is featured in the film) and because the storyline is rather adventurous, almost in a “Young Indiana Jones” type of way and felt that Williams was able to capture adventure and free spirit through his music for this film.
Aside from the main theme of “The Adventures of Tintin” and “Snowy’s Theme” which were very appropriate, the theme that I enjoyed is “Introducing the Thompsons and Snowy’s Chase”. Because these two investigators are somewhat bumbling misfits at times, the music features that bubbliness. But also manages to capture a more darker theme with “Snowy’s Chase”.
Tracks such as “Marlinspike Hall” manages to have this thrilling adventurous side with the strings and transitions to another adventurous track with “Escape from the Karaboudjan” which elevates with its action theme as it utilizes the brass to emphasize risk in the adventure.
And while the majority of the tracks showcase adventure, my favorite track would have to be “The Milanese Nightingale” which is more elegant, Parisian-style and romantic. And then you have the operatic track “Presenting Bianca Castafiore/Renee Fleming”.
When it comes to the adventure side of the music, Steven Spielberg said, “John’s stirring theme for our title character Tintin is perfectly suited to a young reporter who somehow always becomes the story. The second most important character in the Herge series is the oftentimes drunken sea captain Archibald Haddock, and for him, John created a theme that sounds like it’s from the bottom of a bottle – until Haddock’s redemption, that is – when his theme sobers into one that is lovely and noble.”
The CD insert comes with production credits, a word from Steven Spielberg and images from the film.
Overall, “The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn – Music from the Motion Picture” features a sound that seems to connect with my images of the characters from the comic series. I can imagine these adventures and the music being played in my head, despite the film not having been shown in America yet. But one thing that I noticed with John Williams is his uncanny ability to adapt through images, through scenery and because the storyline of “Tintin” has a strong history and familiarity worldwide, it was important to capture that adventure, to capture the journey that Tintin, Snow and Captain Haddock take part in because there is plenty of action in this storyline and for this young reporter, he is often at the scene of criminal activity and is often in trouble or often trying to elude from authorities (mainly Thompson and Thompson) while trying to find the true criminal.
I wondered how the approach to the music would be and for the most part, John Williams managed to capture an uplifting, adventurous Odyssey that these characters must take in order to solve these mysteries. Once again, I can see how these images play in my mind and seeing how the music played out. May it be images in my mind of Tintin sneaking inside a ship, him, Haddock and little Snowy walking the desert and then transitioning to the search for treasure after Tintin purchases an old model ship that others want to get their hands on. And just listening to the music, it’s that sense of adventure that Williams captures with great efficacy.
Overall, “The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn – Music from the Motion Picture” is an adventurous soundtrack that compliments the overall theme of “The Adventures of Tintin” and once again, John Williams and orchestra manage to do a magnificent job in their performance of the music.
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