Top positive review
3 people found this helpful
I want to be buried with this book.
on April 29, 2002
Those delightful boobies, Thomson and Thompson, reappear in this sequel to 'Cigars Of The Pharoah', at one point ostentatiously disguising themselves in 'Mikado'-like finery to blend in with the Chinese locals, as they attempt to surreptitiously capture Tintin, only gathering an amused crowd in their wake.
For many Tintinophiles, 'The Blue Lotus' is the most precious of all Herge's masterpieces; certainly, in the event of a fire, after my dogs, and maybe my wife, my long-battered copy would be the first thing I would rescue. From its famous front cover - a giant, twisting black Chinese dragon on a rich red background, facing Tintin and Snowy as they hide in blue vase patterned with a bird and flowers, the images lit by a pale green lantern - every frame is a detailed artwork in itself. Set largely in Japan and European-occupied Shanghai in the early 1930s, every frame painstakingly evokes the Oriental setting: every wall-covering, item of clothing, ornament, building, street, poster, vehicle. Some of the landscapes and silhouettes are etched with the complex simplicity of a wood-cut by Hokusai, Hiroshige or Taige. The eye-dazzling colour is complemented by a much higher proportion of night scenes than previous Tintins. The deep, sombre colours give the story a melancholy (as do the peeling walls found everywhere behind the prettily picturesque Orientalist scenes). This sadness is matched by the plot's events, not just the violent expansionist plans of Japanese fascists or the culpability of European colonialists, but a world where brave sons turn mad, and orphans nearly drown by sheer chance. Herge's storytelling has also matured significantly since his early efforts: his pacing and variations of tone, his crosscutting and fragmenting of narrative, his sustaining mystery - all come together with superb mastery.
And for the first time, because the fictional world created is so believable and historically rooted, Tintin takes on the contours of a genuine hero, much more than a mad marionette endlessly dodging melodramatic villains. His genuine nobility, loyalty and courage, his touching friendship with the orphan Chang, all bespeak fading values in a world crashing towards totalitarianism. A beautiful, urgent book.