Flight 714

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Flight 714
(Vol 714 pour Sydney)
Tintin, Snowy, Haddock, and others emerge from a cave into an underground cavern, adorned by statues of ancient astronauts.
Cover of the English edition
Date 1968
Series The Adventures of Tintin
Publisher Casterman
Creative team
Creator Hergé
Original publication
Published in Tintin magazine
Issues 836 – 997
Date of publication 1 September 1966 – 1 January 1968
Language French
Translation
Publisher Methuen
Date 1968
Translator
  • Leslie Lonsdale-Cooper
  • Michael Turner
Chronology
Preceded by The Castafiore Emerald (1963)
Followed by Tintin and the Picaros (1976)

Flight 714 (French: Vol 714 Pour Sydney) is the twenty-second volume of The Adventures of Tintin, the comics series by Belgian cartoonist Hergé. The title refers to a flight that Tintin and his friends fail to catch, as they become embroiled in a plot to kidnap an eccentric millionaire from a supersonic business jet on an Indonesian island. This album, first published in 1968, is unusual in the Tintin series for its science fiction and paranormal influences. The central mystery is essentially left unresolved.

Synopsis[edit]

On a refueling stop in Jakarta, Tintin, Captain Haddock and Professor Calculus are on their way to Sydney when they chance upon their friend Skut, whom they met during The Red Sea Sharks. Skut is now personal pilot for aircraft industrialist and eccentric millionaire Laszlo Carreidas. Unable to politely refuse Carreidas's offer of a lift, Tintin and his friends join the millionaire on his prototype private jet, the Carreidas 160, crewed by Skut, co-pilot Hans Boehm, navigator Paolo Colombani, and steward Gino. Unbeknownst to Carreidas and the others, his secretary Spalding, Boehm, and Colombani are in a plot to hijack the plane and bring it to a deserted volcanic island in the Lesser Sunda Islands. The aircraft makes a rough landing on a makeshift runway made of interlocking metal strips and a nylon barrier at the end. While disembarking from the plane, a terrified Snowy bolts from Tintin's arms and runs off. Guards shoot at him, and a horrified Tintin believes that he is killed.

The mastermind of the plot then reveals himself as the evil Rastapopoulos, intent on taking Carreidas' fortune. Captain Haddock's corrupt ex-shipmate, Allan, is present as Rastapopoulos's henchman. The Sondonesians have been hired as mercenaries. In return, Rastapopoulos promised to help them gain their independence.

Tintin, Haddock, Calculus, Skut and Gino are bound and held in Japanese World War II-era bunkers. Rastapopoulos takes Carreidas to another bunker where his accomplice, Dr. Krollspell, injects the millionaire with a truth serum to enable Rastapopoulos to learn Carreidas's Swiss bank account number. Unfortunately for Rastapopoulos, Carreidas becomes all too eager to tell the truth about his life of greed, perfidy, and corruption—everything except the account number. Furious, Rastapopoulos lunges at Krollspell, who is still holding the truth serum syringe, and is accidentally injected. He too recounts hideous deeds in a boasting manner, as he and Carreidas begin to quarrel over who is the more evil. Rastapopoulos reveals that nearly all of the men he recruited, including Spalding, the aircraft pilots, the Sondonesians, and (the increasingly unnerved) Krollspell, are all marked to be eliminated after Rastapopoulos gets Carreidas's account number.

Snowy, alive after all, helps Tintin and his friends escape by distracting the two guards, enabling Tintin to knock them out, and find the bunker where Carreidas is held prisoner. Tintin and Captain Haddock bind and gag Krollspell, Rastapopoulos, and even the irascible Carreidas, and escort them to lower ground, intending to use Rastapopoulos as a hostage. However, the serum wears off and Rastapopoulos escapes as Allan detects the escaping prisoners. Krollspell, in fear of Rastapopoulos, throws in his lot with Tintin and Haddock; he is subsequently released and continues to accompany Tintin and Haddock, watching the still irritable Carreidas.

Tintin, led by a telepathic voice, guides the protagonists to discover a hidden entrance to a cave. Through a large hallway they discover a temple hidden inside the island's volcano, guarded by an ancient statue that has all the appearances of a modern astronaut. Penetrating deeper into the volcano, Tintin and his friends meet Mik Kanrokitoff, a writer for the magazine Space Week, who reveals to them that his is the guiding voice that they have followed, having received it into their minds via a telepathic transmitter. Kanrokitoff obtained the device from an extraterrestrial race, who were formerly worshipped on the island as gods and who use it as a landing-point to contact Earth's people.

An earthquake and explosion set off by Rastapopoulos and his men triggers a volcanic eruption. Despite Carreidas's irascible behaviour, Tintin and his party finally reach relative safety inside the volcano's crater bowl. Meanwhile, Rastapopoulos and his henchmen flee the eruption by running down the outside of the volcano and launch a rubber dinghy from Carreidas' plane.

Once Tintin and his friends find their way out of the volcano, Kanrokitoff puts them all under hypnosis and summons a flying saucer piloted by the extraterrestrials. The hypnotised group boards the saucer, narrowly escaping the volcano's dramatic eruption. Kanrokitoff spots the rubber dinghy and exchanges Tintin and his companions (except Krollspell, who is taken back to his base in Cairo with hypnotic-induced amnesia) for Allan, Spalding, Rastapopoulos, and the treacherous pilots, who are whisked away in the saucer to an unknown fate. Tintin, Haddock, Calculus and Skut awaken from hypnosis and cannot remember what happened to them. Professor Calculus has a souvenir, though—a crafted rod of alloyed cobalt, iron, and nickel, which he had found in the caves. The cobalt is of a state that does not occur on Earth, and is the only evidence of a close encounter with its makers. Only Snowy, who cannot speak, remembers the hijacking and alien abduction.

The story ends with Tintin, Carreidas, and companions finally catching flight 714 to Sydney.

History[edit]

Hergé commented that with Flight 714, he wanted a "return to Adventure with a capital A... without really returning there."[1] He sought to provide answers to two questions: "Are there other inhabited planets? And are there 'insiders' who know it?"[2] Hergé had a longstanding interest in paranormal phenomenon, and believed that a story with such elements would appeal to the growing interest in the subject.[2] He was particularly influenced by Robert Charroux's le Live des secrets trahis ("The Book of Betrayed Secrets"), which expounded the idea that extraterrestrials had influenced humanity during prehistory.[2] The character of Mik Kanrokitoff was based on Jacques Bergier.[2]

A launch party for the publication of the book was held in Paris in May 1968, but was overshadowed by that month's student demonstrations and civil unrest.[1]

Later, Hergé regretted explicitly depicting the alien space craft at the end of the story, although was unsure how he could have ended the story without it.[1]

Carreidas 160[edit]

A detailed, cross-section design of an aircraft, the Carreidas 160, is shown
The Carreidas 160 cross-sectional view, as it appeared in Tintin magazine

Hergé wanted the Carreidas 160 in Flight 714 (1968) to have at least the same detailed attention that he had put into all of his fictional vehicles, from the Unicorn ship in The Secret of the Unicorn (1943) to the moon rocket in Explorers on the Moon (1954).[3] The supersonic jet aircraft called for by the new Tintin adventure, while fanciful, could not be viewed as implausible and needed to meet the same exacting standards. Hergé, who had reached his sixtieth birthday and whose drawing hand had begun suffering from eczema, was happy to leave the drawing of the jet to Roger Leloup, his younger colleague at Studios Hergé.[4] Leloup, a technical artist and aviation expert, had drawn the moon rocket, the de Havilland Mosquito in The Red Sea Sharks (1958), and all aircraft in the recently redrawn The Black Island (1966).[5] Leloup was described by British Tintin expert Michael Farr as "the aeronautical expert in the Studios" and his design of the Carreidas 160 as "painstakingly executed and, of course, viable."[6]

A "meticulous design of the revolutionary Carreidas 160 jet" was prepared, according to entertainment producer and author Harry Thompson, "a fully working aircraft with technical plans drawn up by Roger Leloup."[7] Leloup's detailed cross-sectional design of the Carreidas 160 and its technical specifications were published in a double-page spread for Tintin magazine in 1966.[8]

Critical analysis[edit]

Hergé biographer Benoît Peeters noted that the book "smacks somewhat of [Hergé's] hesitation" as he was unsure whether to include an explicit depiction of the extraterrestrial ship.[1]

Trivia[edit]

  • Writer Hugo Frey argues that Rastapopoulos' appearance was an example of post-war anti-Semitism on Hergé's part,[10] though other writers argue against this, pointing out that Rastapopoulos is not Jewish and surrounds himself with explicitly German-looking characters: Kurt, the submarine commander of The Red Sea Sharks; Dr. Krollspell, whom Hergé himself referred to as a former concentration camp official; and Hans Boehm, the sinister-looking navigator and co-pilot, both from Flight 714.[11]
  • The statues on the island have eyes similar to the Japanese Dogū figurines.
  • A use of the real Indonesian language occurs here: while on duty, two of the guards that keep watch on Rastapopoulos' bunker talk about a particular Indonesian dish that originated in Java, sambal rujak (ground chilli sauce with shrimp paste).
  • This Tintin story takes place over the shortest time-span of all The Adventures of Tintin. All except the last three pages occur within 24 hours.
  • The Komodo dragon, a reptile endemic to Komodo Island of Indonesia, makes an appearance when Tintin is traversing the jungle. Another Indonesian animal that appears is the Proboscis monkey (bekantan) or Dutch monkey, which is endemic to the island of Kalimantan. Its characteristic bulbous nose is compared to that of Rastapopoulos.[12]

References[edit]

Footnotes[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d Peeters 2012, p. 299.
  2. ^ a b c d Peeters 2012, p. 298.
  3. ^ Goddin 2011, p. 150.
  4. ^ Assouline 2009, pp. 200–201; Farr 2001, p. 184; Thompson 1991, p. 190.
  5. ^ Assouline 2009, pp. 200–202; Farr 2001, pp. 75, 78, 157, 184; Lambiek Comiclopedia 2011; Dupuis 2011.
  6. ^ Farr 2001, pp. 184–185.
  7. ^ Thompson 1991, p. 190.
  8. ^ Farr 2001, pp. 184–185; Tintin magazine 1966.
  9. ^ Mohsin Hamid, "The Reluctant Fundamentalist". Orlando: Harcourt, 2007 at p.52
  10. ^ Hugo Frey, "Trapped in the Past: Anti-Semitism in Hergé's Flight 714" in Mark McKinney, ed., History and Politics in French-Language Comics and Graphic Novels at p.31
  11. ^ The Metamorphoses of Tintin: or Tintin for Adults by Jean-Marie Apostolidès, Jocelyn Hoy, published in 2009 by Stanford University Press
  12. ^ Yeung, Kenneth, "Tintin in Indonesia", Jakarta Expat, 28 January 2013
  13. ^ Walker, Marc (2014-03-17). "Malaysian plane mystery copies comic story of hijacked jet which landed on remote island". Daily Star. Retrieved 2014-08-05. 
  14. ^ "Missing Malaysian jet MH370 has all the elements of a Tintin adventure". IBNLive. 2014-03-19. Retrieved 2014-08-05. 

Bibliography[edit]

External links[edit]