The Arty Semite

Q&A: Steven Spielberg Talks Tintin

By Dorri Olds

  • Print
  • Share Share

Steven Spielberg walked the red carpet at New York City’s Ziegfeld Theatre on December 12 like a regular guy, wearing an understated houndstooth cap, a knit scarf and wool overcoat. It was the New York City premiere of his 3D motion capture animated movie, “The Adventures of Tintin,” opening December 21.

Dorri Olds

Tintin, a cartoon journalist created by Belgian artist Hergé in 1929, is well known outside of the U.S., but Spielberg hadn’t heard of him until 1981, when a French review of “Raiders of the Lost Ark” compared Indiana Jones to Tintin. Spielberg’s 3D film is based on Hergé’s stories “The Crab with the Golden Claws” (1941), “The Secret of the Unicorn” (1942) and “Red Rackham’s Treasure” (1943).

The Arty Semite caught up with Spielberg outside the Ziegfeld to ask him about using motion capture technology, making Tintin 3D, and what Snowy should look like.

Dorri Olds: How long did it take to make this movie?

Steven Spielberg: It’s been a labor of love for 28 years, when I first optioned the rights from the Hergé estate. I had the honor of meeting, on the telephone, the great Hergé in 1983. This has been the longest gestation between the intention to tell a story and the actual realization. It’s taken all these years but I’m so proud of where we landed.

What was it like bringing the characters to life in 3D?

I was very subtle with the 3D, I didn’t want it to be right in your lap. I wasn’t trying to make a sensationalized 3D movie. I wanted it to be how we see life. We take for granted that we see in 3D. Suddenly we see 3D movies and we’re going, “Oh my God it’s in 3D!” We forget that we see 3D every day. I just wanted it to be lifelike.

What would you say to people about to see the film?

Whatever you’ve heard about motion capture, emotion capture, performance capture, digital animation, this movie will only really work if after five minutes into it all you focus on is the story and the characters and all the fun you’re about to have. So, forget everything you’ve heard and just go and enjoy Tintin.

What was the challenge using motion capture?

When working with animation, my hands aren’t tied by weather, real sky, real earth, real ocean. I can go anywhere, do anything, move the camera anywhere I wanted to. Suddenly with my hands free, it was limitless and gave me a chance to make a movie that allowed my imagination to take me anywhere it wanted to go.

What technical difficulties did you run into?

There are always technical difficulties. Motion capture is a very fluid technology. It’s always getting better. When we got halfway through the animation we realized how to make it better, more realistic, then had to go back into the first part of the movie and reanimate.

What is the importance of the dog, Snowy, in the story?

Snowy is Tintin’s sidekick and sometimes it’s the other way around. Snowy brings the audience in. He brings a point of view. He says to the audience, “Yeah, I’m with you, this is very confusing.”

Were there any arguments about how Snowy should look?

No, never. Hergé was our style guide. We got every picture of Snowy he ever drew, put it into a computer, looked from every angle, put him on a turntable, until we were able to find a three dimensional — I don’t mean 3D popping out at you — but a dimensionalized Snowy that honored the Hergé design.

What was your first impression upon meeting producer Peter Jackson?

It was great. I loved being around him. Peter was a brand new voice, a very original voice. I just knew he was going to do great things. We all did. I remember when [Robert Zemeckis] sponsored him. I sponsored Bob first then Bob sponsored Peter with the movie, “The Frighteners.” We all had a hand in pulling each other up in life.

Did you learn anything from Peter during the making of Tintin?

Yeah, I learned how to be a lot funnier than I am in real life. [Laughs]

Watch the trailer for ‘The Adventures of Tintin:’


Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: Tintin, Steven Spielberg, Interviews, Dorri Olds, Film

The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.




Find us on Facebook!
  • Law professor Dan Markel waited a shocking 19 minutes for an ambulance as he lay dying after being ambushed in his driveway. Read the stunning 911 transcript as neighbor pleaded for help.
  • Happy birthday to the Boy Who Lived! July 31 marks the day that Harry Potter — and his creator, J.K. Rowling — first entered the world. Harry is a loyal Gryffindorian, a matchless wizard, a native Parseltongue speaker, and…a Jew?
  • "Orwell would side with Israel for building a flourishing democracy, rather than Hamas, which imposed a floundering dictatorship. He would applaud the IDF, which warns civilians before bombing them in a justified war, not Hamas terrorists who cower behind their own civilians, target neighboring civilians, and planned to swarm civilian settlements on the Jewish New Year." Read Gil Troy's response to Daniel May's opinion piece:
  • "My dear Penelope, when you accuse Israel of committing 'genocide,' do you actually know what you are talking about?"
  • What's for #Shabbat dinner? Try Molly Yeh's coconut quinoa with dates and nuts. Recipe here:
  • Can animals suffer from PTSD?
  • Is anti-Zionism the new anti-Semitism?
  • "I thought I was the only Jew on a Harley Davidson, but I was wrong." — Gil Paul, member of the Hillel's Angels. http://jd.fo/g4cjH
  • “This is a dangerous region, even for people who don’t live there and say, merely express the mildest of concern about the humanitarian tragedy of civilians who have nothing to do with the warring factions, only to catch a rash of *** (bleeped) from everyone who went to your bar mitzvah! Statute of limitations! Look, a $50 savings bond does not buy you a lifetime of criticism.”
  • That sound you hear? That's your childhood going up in smoke.
  • "My husband has been offered a terrific new job in a decent-sized Midwestern city. This is mostly great, except for the fact that we will have to leave our beloved NYC, where one can feel Jewish without trying very hard. He is half-Jewish and was raised with a fair amount of Judaism and respect for our tradition though ultimately he doesn’t feel Jewish in that Larry David sort of way like I do. So, he thinks I am nuts for hesitating to move to this new essentially Jew-less city. Oh, did I mention I am pregnant? Seesaw, this concern of mine is real, right? There is something to being surrounded by Jews, no? What should we do?"
  • "Orwell described the cliches of politics as 'packets of aspirin ready at the elbow.' Israel's 'right to defense' is a harder narcotic."
  • From Gene Simmons to Pink — Meet the Jews who rock:
  • The images, which have since been deleted, were captioned: “Israel is the last frontier of the free world."
  • As J Street backs Israel's operation in Gaza, does it risk losing grassroots support?
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.