“We want Amer­i­cans to dis­cover Tintin like they did Star­wars”


It was Tintin ma­nia writ large. Fans were out on the streets, some sport­ing Tintin caps, some in the trade­mark quaff of the world’s most fa­mous boy reporter. There was even some­one strut­ting around in a Cap­tain Had­dock cos­tume. The Ad­ven­tures of Tintin: The Se­cret of the Uni­corn, the an­i­mated 3D adap­ta­tion of the Bel­gian comic book hero, pre­miered on Oc­to­ber 21 at the UGC De Brouckere the­atre in Brus­sels, the city of his cre­ator Herge’s birth. IN­DIA

TO­DAY’S As­so­ci­ate Copy Editor NAREN­DER SAINI caught up with the movie’s di­rec­tor, Steven Spiel­berg, over two days in Brus­sels and Paris. Ex­cerpts:

Q. When did the idea of mak­ing a Tintin movie first catch your fancy?

A. In the 1980s. But we lacked the tech­nol­ogy then. I found it only in the Noughties and im­me­di­ately reac­quired the movie rights. On an in­tu­ition, I ap­proached Weta, Lord of the Rings di­rec­tor Peter Jack­son’s com­pany. I asked them to show me how Snowy, Tintin’s faith­ful com­pan­ion, would look like. It took them three months be­fore the re­sults came in. I went to my screen­ing room and turned on the pro­jec­tor. And there was Snowy. Their dig­i­tal dog was bril­liant. We were on!

Q. The movie re­leases in In­dia on Novem­ber 11, a full six weeks be­fore its US re­lease. Any spe­cial rea­son?

A. Amer­ica doesn’t know Tintin. We are po­si­tion­ing it as an orig­i­nal movie based on a good story. We want Amer­i­cans to dis­cover Tintin the same way they dis­cov­ered In­di­ana Jones, ET, Star Wars or films like Avatar.

Q. Do you think you did jus­tice in terms of an­i­ma­tion and live ac­tion?

A. Yes. The char­ac­ters breathe life, they pos­sess a sense of humour and all the emo­tions we do be­cause they were per­formed by real peo­ple. But I am not pat­ting my­self on the back. All credit goes to Weta and the ac­tual an­i­ma­tors.

Q. Does tech­nol­ogy ob­scure the story in your lat­est of­fer­ing?

A. Tech­nol­ogy made things easy but is not most im­por­tant. If you do not have

“My fi­nancier, Re­liance En­ter­tain­ment, is mak­ing movies pos­si­ble for my Dream­works Stu­dios now.”

a great idea, you can­not make a great movie based only on tech­nol­ogy.

Q. Did you ever meet Herge, Tintin’s cre­ator?

A. I had spo­ken to him over the phone some­time in 1983. I told him what a huge fan I am of his art, and his sto­ries, and he raved about Raiders of the Lost Ark, which had come out in 1981. I told him that I wanted to adapt his book into a movie. Herge said, “You are the only di­rec­tor I feel who can do jus­tice to my book.” He asked if I could come next week. I was shoot­ing the next In­di­ana Jones in­stal­ment that time in Lon­don. We agreed to meet in three weeks. He died two weeks later.

Q. Who is your favourite char­ac­ter in the Tintin se­ries?

A. Cap­tain Had­dock. Be­cause he is funny, larger-than-life, and his world­view is a lit­tle clouded over. The best thing about him is his pro­fan­ity. Herge cus­tomised it for him.

Q. You and Peter Jack­son are plan­ning a Tintin tril­ogy…

A. If the film achieves a level of suc­cess that we think war­rants fur­ther ad­ven­tures of Tintin, Peter and I would love to do it.

Q. Be­sides the Re­liance En­ter­tain­ment tie-up, what other In­dian col­lab­o­ra­tions do you have?

A. I don’t. My fi­nancier, Re­liance En­ter­tain­ment, is mak­ing movies pos­si­ble for my Dream­works Stu­dios now.

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