Australian Council on Children and the Media

Adventures of Tintin: The secret of the Unicorn, The

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Short takes

Not recommended under 8, PG 8-13 (Violence; Scary scenes)

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This topic contains:

  • overall comments and recommendations
  • details of classification and consumer advice lines for Adventures of Tintin: The secret of the Unicorn, The
  • a review of Adventures of Tintin: The secret of the Unicorn, The completed by the Australian Council on Children and the Media (ACCM) on 19 December 2011.

Overall comments and recommendations

Children under 8 Not recommended due to violence and scary scenes.
Children aged 8-13 Parental guidance recommended due to violence and scary scenes.
Children over the age of 13 OK for this age group

About the movie

This section contains details about the movie, including its classification by the Australian Government Classification Board and the associated consumer advice lines.

Name of movie: Adventures of Tintin: The secret of the Unicorn, The
Classification: PG
Consumer advice lines: Action violence
Length 107 minutes

ACCM review

This review of the movie contains the following information:

A synopsis of the story

The Adventures of Tintin is the first in a trilogy of Tintin films. Tintin (voice of Jamie Bell) buys a model of an old sailing ship called the Unicorn, which disappeared at sea over 300 years previously, possibly carrying treasure. He is approached by the sinister Ivanovich Sakharine (voice of Daniel Graig), who wants to buy the model but Tintin refuses.

By chance, Tintin discovers a metal cylinder secreted away in the model ship. It contains a parchment scroll with a strange riddle written on it and a series of seemingly meaningless numbers. Apparently three model ships were made each with a hidden scroll, and the three scrolls are the key to revealing the location of the sunken Unicorn’s treasure.  Sakharine has one scroll and Tintin now has another.

Sakharine kidnaps Tintin and imprisons him aboard the cargo ship the Karaboudjan but Tintin manages to escape along with the perpetually drunk captain Archibald Haddock (voice of Andy Serkis). Tintin and Haddock make their way to Morocco where a sheikh holds the third model ship and their adventures continue.

Themesinfo

Children and adolescents may react adversely at different ages to themes of crime, suicide, drug and alcohol dependence, death, serious illness, family breakdown, death or separation from a parent, animal distress or cruelty to animals, children as victims, natural disasters and racism. Occasionally reviews may also signal themes that some parents may simply wish to know about.

Pirates; curses; revenge; alcoholism

Use of violenceinfo

Research shows that children are at risk of learning that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution when violence is glamourised, performed by an attractive hero, successful, has few real life consequences, is set in a comic context and / or is mostly perpetrated by male characters with female victims, or by one race against another.

Repeated exposure to violent content can reinforce the message that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution. Repeated exposure also increases the risks that children will become desensitised to the use of violence in real life or develop an exaggerated view about the prevalence and likelihood of violence in their own world.

Tintin contains cartoon action violence with minimal blood and gore but some killing Examples include:

  • A man hits Tintin over the head with a torch, knocking him unconscious.
  • Tintin is kidnapped by Sakharine’s thugs. A drug-soaked cloth socked is forcefully held over his mouth, causing him to fall unconscious, and he is put into a large crate.
  • Sakharine threatens Tintin by holding the tip of the sword in front of Tintin’s face and tells his henchmen to make Tintin talk by breaking every bone in his body.  
  • On several occasions throughout the film the henchmen fire machine guns at Tintin.  
  • Through out the film we see a number of fist fights with Tintin punching villains in the face.
  • Captain Haddock knocks out both Tintin and Snowy with an oar. While drunk, Haddock builds a large fire in the bottom of a boat and attempts to put the fire out by pouring whisky onto it, causing a large explosion.
  • A man is shot and killed in Tintin’s apartment doorway.  We do not see bullet wounds, but is obvious that the man has been shot and is dying, and we see the man with his fingers dripping with blood reach out for a news paper, smearing his blood over an article as if attempting to leave a message before he dies.
  • In a flashback scene of a sea battle, ships fire cannons at each other, with explosions and flames as the ships collide and are engulfed in flames. Guns are fired, men are shot dead and there is sword fighting. Comical violence is interwoven with recoiling cannons knocking sailors into the sea.
  • Pirate Red Rackham orders his men to kill Sir Francis’s men and sailors bound in chains are pushed off the ship and into the sea; where sharks circle the sinking men.
  • There is a sword fight between Sir Francis and Red Rackham and Sir Francis stabs Red Rackham through the chest killing him
  • Captain Haddock and Sakharine have a duel with giant cargo cranes. Buildings are destroyed along with both cranes and Captain Haddock is nearly killed. The clash ends in a sword and fist fight.

Material that may scare or disturb children

Under fiveinfo

Children under five are most likely to be frightened by scary visual images, such as monsters, physical transformations.

In addition to the above-mentioned violent scenes, there are some scenes in this movie that could scare or disturb children under the age of five, including the following:

  • Tintin thrown through the windscreen of a plane when it crash-lands after being hit by lightning. He lies unconscious on the nose of the plane with his face inches from the plane’s spinning propeller, slowly sliding closer.  Snowy pulls Tintin to safety.
  • A large snarling Rottweiler dog chases Tintin with a tree branch hitting the dog in the face as it chases him. The danger is averted when Snowy distracts the Rottweiler. 
  • While chasing after Tintin Snowy is nearly run over by speeding cars and then almost tramped to death by cows. 

Aged five to eightinfo

Children aged five to eight will also be frightened by scary visual images and will also be disturbed by depictions of the death of a parent, a child abandoned or separated from parents, children or animals being hurt or threatened and / or natural disasters.

Children in this age group may also be disturbed by some of the above-mentioned scenes.

Aged eight to thirteeninfo

Children aged eight to thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic threats and dangers, violence or threat of violence and / or stories in which children are hurt or threatened.

Children in this age group may also be disturbed by some of the above-mentioned scenes.

Over thirteeninfo

Children over the age of thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic physical harm or threats, molestation or sexual assault and / or threats from aliens or the occult.

Nothing of concern

Product placement

None of concern

Sexual references

None of concern

Nudity and sexual activity

The film contains mild sexual references, including:

  • A sailor sleeps with a rat between his hands and Captain Haddock tells Tintin that the man was sacked from his previous job on account of his “animal husbandry”.
  • Seeing a female opera singer,  a man comments “what a dish”

Use of substances

There is some use of substances in this movie, including:

  • A man smokes a cigarette.
  • Numerous remarks are made about Captain Haddock’s alcoholism and we are told that it spans back through generations of Haddocks. Captain Haddock is in a state of severe intoxication through most of the film and consumes alcohol on numerous occasions. He becomes violent and causes life threatening situations as a result of his drunken state.
  • Tintin is made unconsciousness when a drug-soaked cloth is forcefully held against his mouth. 

Coarse language

  • “one bleeding minute”, “drunken tub”, “hopeless old soak”, “yellow bellied sea slugs”, “pilfering parasites”

In a nutshell

The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn is a motion capture animated action adventure directed by Steven Spielberg and produced by Peter Jackson. The film targets at a wide raging audience from seven years up to adults. Younger children may find the film’s content too intense and its running time of 107 minutes rather long.

The main message from this movie is that if you care about something you should fight for it and never give up.

Values in this movie that parents may wish to reinforce with their children include perseverance. Tintin, as a journalist, is relentless and focused in his pursuit of a story and perseveres no matter what the cost. 

Although Captain Haddock’s alcoholism is played for comedy, parents may wish to discuss the real-life physical, emotional and financial consequences of alcoholism, particularly when it runs in families.

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