Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Tin-Tin in Tibet

On June 1, 2006, Tintin became the first fictional character to be awarded the Dalai Lama's Truth of Light award. “For many people around the world Tintin in Tibet was their first introduction to Tibet, the beauty of its landscape and its culture. And that is something that has passed down the generations,” said the International Campaign for Tibet's Simon van Melick. During the award ceremony copies of Tintin in Tibet in Esperanto (Tinĉjo en Tibeto) were distributed among the attendees and journalists.

The image of Tin-Tin in Tibet is still raising awareness about the plight of Tibet today. The International Campaign for Tibet calendar 2009 shows this wonderfully inspiring image of the West learning from the East, the young from the old. It also inadvertently shows perhaps the last generation of a Tibetan culture on the edge of extinction due to colonisation and what amounts to ethnic cleansing - largely achieved without the intervention of the world's politicians or press.

The Belgian cartoonist and comic-book story-teller, Hergé, is reported as having said Tin-Tin in Tibet was his own personal favourite from all the Tin-Tin comics he created.

Incredibly, it was set in 1958 [the year before the Tibetan uprising that lead to the initial slaughter of so many Tibetans, and HH Dalai Lama having to flee to India]. It was first published in 1960 and contributed to keeping Tibet in the public consciousness while it was all just beginning to fall apart. In particular, it fed into the French fascination with all things Tibetan - something which continues today. The French are still the only government brave enough to stand up to the Chinese in support of Tibet.

Once i heard the Tin-Tin in Tibet comic in French had become a rarity, and something of a valuable collector's item, i was intrigued enough to try to find one and read it - alas, to no avail. Then, years later, i heard it had become an animated cartoon for cinema [with translations in several languages]. But, alas, i couldn't find that either.

This Tin-Tin in Tibet film started to haunt me.

The universe seemed to be conspiring to bring me to it, however.

Books on Tibet would fall off shelves and hit me on the head - although that's not unusual for my house.
A lovely family moved in beside us and, to my amazement, i asked the trendy young yummy-mummy her name only to be told it was Tin-Tin !
OMG! Can you believe it?!

Then my friend Pat sent me an email the other day about a Tibetan Buddhist Film Festival in London this week - which i have missed, of course. I scrolled through the programme and there it was ... in 1960's Kodak-chrome, full colour ... effing Tin-Tin in Tibet!
AARRRGH... so close and yet so far!

Just when i thought the universe was merely tantalising me with the unattainable, i asked myself how hard i had actually tried to find it. What had i actually done to achieve my boy-hood dream of reading or seeing it?

Then i remembered how lazy and stupid i am.

So ... suddenly, like St Paul on the road to Damascus, or black-and-white Dorothy waking up in technicolor Oz, an incredible realisation seized me! ... OMG, the INTERNET !!! ... I seem to spend my whole life on it, but NEVER thought to search properly there!

What a silly-billy i have been, darlings.
It was there all along! Hiding in plain sight!
The internet, you see, is not only full of rubbish... it is also full of precisely the very rubbish you've been searching for all this time!
Oh Happy Day!

Please enjoy the four-part film, Tin-Tin in Tibet, on youtube here

You can even read an incredibly well-researched entry on wikipedia here


  1. we watched the youtube cartoon on thursday night with the kids, thanks for the link!

    We already had the comic book so it was great to watch the cartoon.

  2. hey Olivier... glad you liked it, me too ; ]

  3. hey Olivier... glad you liked it, me too ; ]