“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.