Camila Medina in her cinema focused Portugese blog today writes about the French film based on the fascinating adventures of the 'Corto Maltese' , the fictional sailor born in Malta. I discovered the Corto Maltese years ago at a cartoons exhibition while attending a student conference in Brussels. Within days I had devoured all the Corto stories. The character created by Italian writer Hugo Pratt is very popular in France, Belgium and Italy but virtually unknown in his 'native' country (and in the anglo-saxon world) where children are usually restricted to reading books that are popular in the UK (thankfully Malta has it's own children's literature author Trevor Zahra). Maltese audiences have been deprived of the exploits of this open minded treasure-hunter and risk taker for far too long. Maybe one of the new crop of Maltese translators could be commissioned to take up the challenge! This Valletta born son of a British sailor and a Spanish gypsy travelled the world without prejudice to national, ideological and religious boundaries. He could be the ideal hero for our times! About Pascal Morelli's Corto Maltese film from the French cultural website Plume-Noire:
If you're not familiar with Hugo Pratt's universe, if you only swear by the jokes of the Dreamworks' ogre, Miyazaki's dreamlike princesses, or Disney's Christmas "ornaments", then carry on. This adaptation of the adventures of Corto Maltese, a mythical figure of comics, risks disappointing the neophytes. This ecstatic dive into a universe set halfway between history and romantic poetry cannot be compared to current animated productions and is intended for sensitive souls in the audience.
The first adventures of the gentleman sailor (born in 1877 in Malta) started in 1905 in the album la Jeunesse. The son of a British officer and a Spanish gypsy, Corto is not only crossing the path of future great historic figures, from Jack London to Joseph Stalin (then called Djougatchvili) and Butch Cassidy. This is one of Pratt's brilliant tricks, making his hero credible by giving him a life, an existence, a body and a soul by anchoring his adventures in History.
The adventure brought to the big screen is inspired by one of his best books, Corto Maltese in Siberia. The gentleman pirate is entrusted for a mission by a Chinese secret society, the Red Lanterns: to seize gold being transported on a train through the snowy steppes of Manchuria and Mongolia. Set in the background of the Russian Revolution of 1919, with an abundance of fights between Bolsheviks and Imperial troops, Corto searches for the treasure. In the process he meets his accomplice and negative alter ego Rasputin, the young and beautiful revolutionary Changaï Li, as well as Jack Tippit, an officer of the United States Air Force and the suspicious duchess Marina Seminova.
Corto Maltese - Wikipedia
Pictures of Corto Maltese
World without Corto - an essay by Igor Stiks translated by Elizabeta Bakovska
Trevor Zahra: Diary and Interview