The Adventures of Tintin: Secret of the Unicorn, known as The Adventures of Tintin in some regions, is a 2011 motion capture 3D film based on The Adventures of Tintin, a series of comic books created by Belgian artist Herge. It was directed by Steven Spielberg, and produced by Peter Jackson. The movie was filmed in Wellington, New Zealand by Weta Digital.1 The film was released in late October (UK) and December (USA) 2011. There is an unreleased sequel titled The Adventures of Tintin II.


The film takes place in an alternate reality from the series, and combines story elements from The Crab with the Golden Claws, The Secret of the Unicorn, and Red Rackham's Treasure.


Tintin is a young world-traveling journalist living in Brussels, Belgium. At a flea market, he discovers - mostly because of his dog Snowy - a model of a ship called the Unicorn and buys it. A man named Barnaby Dawes warns Tintin and says that he exposes himself to great danger unless he gets rid of the model. Another man named Ivan Ivanovitch Sakharine is a collector of model ships and wants to buy the ship from Tintin, but he flatly says no.

When Tintin gets home Snowy starts chasing a cat and then accidentally tips over the ship so that the mast breaks. When Tintin discovers that the mast is hollow, he goes to the Maritime Library, where he finds a book about the Unicorn and its captain, Sir Francis Haddock. It also says that the knight of Hadoque was attacked by pirates and that he had with him a secret cargo in the ship. When Tintin gets home, the model ship has been stolen and he suspects Sakharine. When Tintin comes back after confronting Sakharine, he notices that his apartment has been searched, but nothing has been stolen. But the thieves probably were looking for has always been below Tintin's Office. There Tintin finds an old parchment that says: "Three brothers joined. Three unicorns in company, sailing in the noonday will speak. From what is from the light, that the light will dawn and then shines forth the eagle cross". Then Tintin on the parchment had been in a ship's mast, it fell out of the mast when the ship turned over and then rolled it into the agency and he who stole the ship knew that parchment contained therein. But when the thief took the ship, he discovered that the parchment was not there so he came back to the apartment to look for it, but he did not think it had fallen below the cabinet. That was why the apartment was ransacked.

Murder of Barnaby

Then there was a knock on the door where Barnaby has news for Tintin, but he is shot and the shooter escapes. Barnaby had time to notice eleven letters in a newspaper with his blood before he loses consciousness. Next morning Thompson and Thomson investigate and ask what Barnaby was trying to say. Tintin writes a word with the letters as Barnaby noticed: K, A, R, A, B, O, U, D, J, A, N = Karaboudjan. Tintin's wallet is stolen by the mysterious pickpocket who Thompson and Thomson had long been looking for and he gets away.

Unfortunately, Tintin's parchment was in the wallet, but Thompson and Thomson promise to find the pickpocket.

Capture and escape

Afterwards, Tintin is kidnapped by a sailor named Allan Thompson and taken to the ship as they marked the letters meant, Karaboudjan. The leader of the league proves Sakharine also is looking for the three pieces of parchment that are hidden in the mast on the three Unicorn models. Tintin manages to get loose and hit the man who is actually the captain of Karaboudjan, Captain Haddock Tintin figures out that Haddock is a descendant of Sir Francis Haddock. Tintin and Haddock manage to escape from Karaboudjan and take a life boat to get to Bagghar in Morocco before Sakharine and find the man who has the third Unicorn, Sheik Omar Ben Salaad.In Brussels, Thompson and Thomson, without knowing it, find the thief who turns out to be the retired officer Aristides Silk. They will not listen to him, though he acknowledges several times, until they find the wallets collection he has. Tintin and Haddock are attacked by the Karaboudjan's seaplanes, but Tintin manages to capture the pilots.

Fall of Red Rackham

After Tintin and Haddock have flown a bit, they end suddenly in a storm and crash lands in the middle of the Sahara Desert. Haddock begins then tell about Sir Francis Haddock: The year was 1676 - the Unicorn, the proudest ship of Charles II's fleet, had left the island of Barbados in the Caribbean and set course towards Europe. They had been at sea for less than a day with good wind when it came from the lookout that a ship was heading for them and it was pirates. Sir Francis Haddock saw a horrible revelation to go against him, at that moment in history Haddock passed out. They were found later by Lieutenant Delcourt and taken to Afghar.

When Haddock winds up drinking spirits inadvertently provided by Snowy, he tells the story again. The awful revelation that Sir Francis Haddock saw was the pirates' leader, Red Rackham, who managed to overpower and capture the crew. Rackham, threatened to throw the knight's men overboard if he did not tell was the Unicorn's secret cargo was. Haddock revealed the secret door to the ship's hidden cargo holds and where was the secret cargo: four hundredweight of gold, jewels and treasures. But still Rackham threw Haddock's men overboard and they were eaten by sharks.

When the pirates had fallen asleep, Haddock managed to free himself and subdue Red Rackham following a brief yet spectacular sword duel. To kill all the pirates at the same time, he decided to blow up the Unicorn in the air (ending Rackham's life in the process), but the story was a huge clue: Rackham, said he and Haddock would meet again - in another time, in another life. Sakharine is a descendant of Red Rackham, and he will use his secret weapon, Bianca Castafiore, the Nightingale from Milan, to break the bulletproof glass protecting the third model of the Unicorn containing the last scroll needed, owned and located at the palace of Omar Ben Salaad the sheikh of Bagghar and a model ship collector.


Tintin and Haddock go immediately to Bagghar. When they arrived in Bagghar Thompson and Thomson hand back Tintin's wallet with the parchment.

When the time comes, Castafiore manages to sing down Omar Ben Salaad's bulletproof glass box, Sakharine's pet falcon gets hold of the parchment and Allan steals Tintin's parchment that he had given to Captain Haddock. After a chase through the city succeeds Tintin gets all three parchments, but then forced them to give them to Sakharine to save Haddock and Snowy's lives. Then, when Tintin is about to give up, Haddock convinces him to continue and uses the Karaboudjan's radio frequency to find out where they are headed.


It turns out that Karaboudjan is heading back to Brussels. As a skirmish breaks out between Tintin, Snowy, Thompson, and Thomson against Sakharine's men, Haddock takes on Sakharine, who bashes him with a construction crane and bests him at fencing. Just as Sakharine is about to press his victory, however, Tintin manages to get back all three parchments and Sakharine and Allan are forced to give in when it is found that Barnaby had survived. When Tintin and Haddock are watching properly in the parchment, they see the coordinates at the bottom and they are targeted against Moulin Arts Castle. Tintin and Haddock go into the cellar, helped by the butler Nestor, and find the treasure's location. But there was also a piece of paper there and it is the beginning of a new adventure where they will find the Unicorn's wreck.


Note: (*) indicates that they are played by uncredited actors.




John Williams composed the musical score for The Adventures of Tintin. It was Williams' first film score since 2008's Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull,[1] as well as his first animated film. Most of the score was written while the film's animation was still in the early stages, with Williams attempting to employ "the old Disney technique of doing music first and have the animators trying to follow what the music is doing". Eventually several cues had to be revised when the film was edited. The composer decided to employ various musical styles, with "1920s, 1930s European jazz" for the opening credits, or "pirate music" for the battle at sea.[2] It was released on 21 October 2011 through Sony Classical Records.[3]

The score received very positive reviews from critics.

Release Dates

  • Oct 23 - Belgium, France
  • Oct 26 - United Kingdom
  • Nov 11 - India
  • Nov 24 - Hong Kong
  • Nov 28 - Spain
  • Dec 01 - Japan
  • Dec 09 - Canada (Quebec only)
  • Dec 16 - Australia
  • Dec 21 - Canada (except Quebec), United States
  • Dec 23 - Venezuela
  • Dec 25 - Mexico
  • Dec 26 - New Zealand
  • Dec 30 - Pakistan
  • Jan 20 - Brazil


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The Adventures of Tintin was well responded to by critics, and broke Pixar's streak by taking the 2012 Golden Globe Award for Best Animated Picture. It did not, however, go on to win the Academy Award for the same category (which it was not even nominated for). It was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Original Score, but lost to "The Artist."

Changes from the Source Material

  • As the film mainly draws its story from The Secret of the Unicorn (1943), The Crab with the Golden Claws (1941), and to a very minor degree, Red Rackham's Treasure (1944), several major differences were made from the source material:
    • Instead of the Bird Brothers being the main villains who wanted to find Red Rackham's treasure, Sakharine, the originally innocent ship collector who wanted another model of the Unicorn from Mr. Crabtree in the source material simply for his collection is re-imagined as the main villain and the one who is determined to find the scrolls to the treasure as he was Rackham's sole descendant.
    • Red Rackham's treasure is now instead the property, or at least the stewardship, of Francis Haddock, which eliminates the connotation from the original books of our heroes claiming the treasure as stolen property for themselves. Furthermore, the treasure is not simply the contents of a small chest, but a comparatively vast treasure trove hidden in a secret hold on the Unicorn.
    • In the original book of The Secret of the Unicorn, Tintin intends to buy the model of the Unicorn as a gift for Captain Haddock, but because of the altered series of events in the film, Tintin purchases the model for himself as he does not know Haddock until he gets captured by Sakharine and the crew of the Karaboudjan. Tintin also learns that Captain Haddock is a descendant of Sir Francis Haddock on board the merchant ship shortly after meeting him rather how he learns of it in the original Secret of the Unicorn book.
    • Barnaby is no longer a lackey of the Bird Brothers as he was in the original The Secret of the Unicorn book and is instead an FBI agent who is tasked to protect the three models of the Unicorn being put into bad hands. He also perishes in the film after being shot at Labrador Road rather than what happens to him in the original book.
    • The opium smuggling venture from The Crab with the Golden Claws is removed entirely from the film's plot (though it is referenced during the final battle scene of the storyline where Snowy makes the same crab tins from the original book fall, tumble, and significantly obstruct a number of the Karaboudjan's crewmates.)
    • When Tintin gets chloroformed, he gets sent to the Karaboudjan by its crew instead of Marlinspike Hall by unidentified goons of the Bird Brothers.
    • Omar Ben Salaad is no longer a drug smuggler like how he was in the original Crab with the Golden Claws book and is instead the sheikh of Bagghar and a collector of model ships. He is also instead a neutral character rather than a antagonist.
    • Nestor is initially portrayed as the private driver of Sakharine and only vastly later becomes the future butler of Captain Haddock, whereas in the original books he was always a butler.
    • The crew of the Karaboudjan (minus Haddock) work for Sakharkine in the film instead of working for Ben Salaad in the original Crab with the Golden Claws book.
    • Bianca Castafiore appears in the film, but does not in the original story source material the film adapts.



There is a sequel in production. It is called The Adventures of Tintin II.


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