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A Ship’s Hidden Secrets

Director Steven Spielberg talks about his new 3-D movie, The Adventures of Tintin

December 16, 2011
WETA DIGITAL LTD. ©2011 PARAMOUNT PICTURES

"The Adventures of Tintin" follows a young reporter named Tintin and his loyal pup, Snowy, as they travel the globe to solve the secret of the Unicorn.

Get ready for some good, old-fashioned fun with The Adventures of Tintin, from director Steven Spielberg. The 3-D movie follows a plucky young reporter named Tintin as he tries to solve the mystery behind the Unicorn, a model ship that everyone is after. The film, opening December 21, is based on a classic comic-book series created by Belgian artist Hergé in 1929. Along with his loyal puppy pal, Snowy, and new friend Captain Archibald Haddock, Tintin must unlock the ship’s secret before the evil Ivanovich Sakharine does first.

Director Steven Spielberg—who also directed the upcoming film War Horse—has been a fan of the Tintin comics since he first came across them in 1981. The filmmaking legend spoke to reporters about his long-time pet project. Read on to see what Spielberg has to say about bringing Tintin to the big screen.

Q:

Hergé felt you were the only director that could make a good Tintin movie. Did knowing this affect your decisions on the film at all?

STEVEN SPIELBERG:

I got Hergé on the telephone in 1983, and told him I loved his books and wanted to make movies out of them. He had seen [my film] Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark, and was really enthusiastic about it, so he thought I was a good choice to adapt his books. I kind of went into it with blinders on. I read the first Tintin album—I call the stories albums—in 1981. At the time, I was unaware that 220 million books were going to be sold. I didn’t know that there were legions of fans in Europe and Asia who had learned to read and who had learned a value system through the Tintin stories. If I had known this, I would have been a lot more intimidated.

Q:

What do you think is the appeal of Tintin?

SPIELBERG:

The big appeal, I think, is the contrast between Tintin and the other characters. Tintin is really quite a straight-laced character. He is a very determined journalist, who will stop at nothing to get a good story. He often ends up in his own stories because he gets into a lot of trouble chasing the bad guys as he’s trying to uncover secrets and unearth treasures. Tintin never changes. But everyone else has tremendous dimension. They’re eccentric and funny and bizarre. That’s what makes the Tintin adventures really unique.

Director Steven Spielberg
EUGENE GOLOGURSKY—WIREIMAGE/GETTY IMAGES
Director Steven Spielberg

Q:

Many of your movies are about everyday kids who do extraordinary things when it’s necessary. Why do you think you’re drawn to these types of stories?

SPIELBERG:

I’ve always been drawn, ever since my own childhood, to the empowerment of young people. It’s so powerful when young people suddenly have to take the circumstances in which they find themselves into their own control to become heroes. It’s interesting to me that a lot of my movies have been that.

Q:

How much has reading good books influenced your career?

SPIELBERG:

I’m a reader, but I’m a dyslexic reader. I was diagnosed six years ago with dyslexia, which I didn’t even know that I had. I won’t go into the story of my youth as an extremely slow reader. But it was not fun being in elementary school and having other students, and even some teachers, be impatient with me. I read a lot now because I have to read books and scripts to see if they’d make good movies. I’ve accommodated my life to these challenges. I feel very proud of that, as many kids do when they are able to achieve a balance when struggling with dyslexia.

Q:

How did being a father and a grandfather influence your decision to make this movie and other family films?

SPIELBERG:

Tintin was a very fulfilling movie to make, because it is as much fun for adults as it is for kids. I wanted to make a movie that moms and dads and kids could all see. It’s probably one of the best experiences, in terms of just having pure fun, as a filmmaker that I’ve ever had. Not since E.T. have I enjoyed myself on a film as much as I enjoyed making Tintin.

Q:

What were you a fan of, as a kid?

SPIELBERG:

My earliest obsession was with Walt Disney and the Mickey Mouse Club on television. And most Disney films scared me! I was terrified by Dumbo and Bambi and Fantasia. Disney was my first real window into the things that not only delight me and tickle my imagination, but also terrify me. My early imagination was a way of taking care of myself when I was so frightened. When I was a kid, I was frightened by everything—dark, small spaces; kids who were bigger than me; girls who were bigger than me. I was a scaredy cat. In a lot of the movies I make, I continue to exercise those little nagging fears.

 

Holiday Movie Guide: Click here to read an interview with Jason Segal from The Muppets.


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