THE ADVENTURES OF TINTIN
Herge, Steven Spielberg and Peter Jackson
In a series of heart-stopping adventures around the globe, the graphic novel
character Tintin became a planetary sensation. The intrepid reporter with the
funny coif and the courage to always do the right thing in the most suspenseful
situations has ever since been a worldwide hero to young readers and a vivid
inspiration to artists. The Tintin graphic novels, written and drawn by Georges
Remi under the pen name Herge, have crossed diverse cultures, multiple
generations and even war-torn borders. A pop cultural phenomenon of lasting
magnitude, they have been translated into more than 80 languages; and have sold
more than 350 million copies . . . and counting.
Yet for all the far-flung places Tintin has traveled -- from Peru to Tibet to
the moon â€“the one place he has yet to venture is the modern movie screen. That
changes with The Adventures of Tintin, which not only brings the series to
worldwide movie audiences for the first time but does so in an inventive new way
that pushes the creative envelope of 21st Century storytelling while staying
true to Herge's inimitable and timeless visual style.
The source of the series' sustained power has always been the ways its
scruffy, lovable characters and its passport to exotic lands and courageous
battles against wrongdoers have tied together people who experienced his
adventures with a common bond.
That's what happened with Steven Spielberg and Peter Jackson, who are brought
together for the first time as collaborators by their passion for Herge's
tantalizing tales. Each came across Tintin at entirely different times and in
divergent ways. Yet their passion for the characters' wide-open cinematic
possibilities is the same. Neither could resist the excitement of trying to fuse
the unbridled fun of Herge's drawings with state-of-the-art movie technology and
inspired, emotion-rich performances to create an original motion picture
experience befitting of Tintin's vast legacy.
"Tintin is an eager reporter who chases fragments of clues that suddenly blow
up into these amazing, globe-trotting adventures," Spielberg describes.
"What makes him so intriguing is his relentless pursuit of the truth, although
that always leads him down some treacherous paths. It often seems he's gotten
himself into terrible trouble, but somehow, he finds a way out. From the first
reading, I knew that Tintin and I were destined for some kind of collaboration."
Peter Jackson grew up with Tintin and had been influenced by his adventures.
As a boy in New Zealand, long before he began a filmmaking career that includes
the most lauded fantasy trilogy in movie history: The Lord of the Rings series,
Jackson devoured each Tintin book he could get his hands on, even struggling
through the French editions.
"When you're young, you can easily imagine yourself going on these adventures
that Tintin gets himself into," Jackson notes. "They tap into that
fundamental sense of adventure we all have."
Both men saw the cinematic potential of Tintin embedded in its DNA. "We were
all struck by the fact that Herge was telling stories through what were, in a
sense, these beautiful storyboards that were simple, clear and forceful in their
narrative power," says Spielberg's long-time partner, Kathleen Kennedy, who
would ultimately pair up with Jackson to produce.
Spielberg first reached out to Herge as early as 1983 - and found the Belgian
artist deeply enthusiastic about placing his clever character in the filmmaker's
hands. But tragically, Herge passed away before the two could meet. Later, his
widow, Fanny Rodwell, fulfilled his wishes, granting the rights to Spielberg.
"Herge picked Steven as the only director he thought could do a film based on
his work," says executive producer Stephane Sperry, who has been involved
with the Tintin property for decades and a fan for even longer. "And Steven has
always been respectful of that."
The filmmakers worked closely with Nick and Fanny Rodwell, consulting with
the two careful custodians of Herge's legacy and experts on all things Tintin. "The most important thing was to honor Herge and get as close to his very unique
sense of palette and portraiture as possible. Every single panel of his told a
story in cinematic terms," observes the director. "There was kinetic
energy in every pose and action, and it was almost as if he was trying to
squeeze 24 frames into a single frame, and succeeding. That was, I think, the
genius of Herge. Each of his stories had the essence of a movie - and now we
could be true to that."
Spielberg was convinced right away that Jackson was the ideal partner. "Peter
told me, `If you were here right now, you would see over my shoulder the entire
series of Herge's books, and I would love to be a part of this,'"
Spielberg recalls. "And thus began our process of finding a way to capture that
artistic style that so defines Herge and Tintin, and bring it to the screen."
Jackson couldn't wait to tackle the task. "I was thrilled that Steven invited
me onboard," he says. "Steven really is quite similar to the Tintin character,"
Jackson comments. "He's young at heart. He's very curious. He has a great love
of adventure, and his sense of humor pretty much matches what Herge brought to
Tintin. It's a perfect match."
In addition to serving as producer for the first film, Spielberg asked
Jackson if he would direct the second film in the series. Jackson agreed, and
with the blessing and cooperation of Fanny and Nick Rodwell, and the estate of
Herge, the adventure began. Fanny, who is now the President of the Herge Studios
in Brussels, explains, "It was a special honor for us to be associated with
these exceptional, creative filmmakers who had our full confidence to bring
Tintin to his biggest adventures on the biggest screens. Herge himself once
said, `I consider my stories as movies.' How prophetic!"
In close consultation with the Herge Estate, the filmmakers enlisted
screenwriters Steven Moffat and the team of Edgar Wright & Joe Cornish to craft
the adaptation. To introduce audiences to the maximum breadth of Tintin and his
various allies and enemies, the filmmakers decided to combine three favorite
Tintin books -- The Crab with the Golden Claws, The Secret of the Unicorn and
Red Rackham's Treasure - into a singular plot that would keep modern moviegoers
The books were the screenwriters' lodestar. "Herge's stories pull you in with
vibrant colors and adventures, but they are so much more - they're filled with
moral concepts, a sense of travel and exoticism, while always introducing you to
the grandness of the world and to scientific ideas. I think that's one of the
reasons they're so central to millions of children's imaginations - and we
wanted to bring all that scope to the screenplay," sums up Cornish.
They were also guided by the conceptual approach of Spielberg and Jackson who
saw elements of film noir, Hitchcockian suspense and special-effects thrillers
deep inside Herge's playful line drawings - and brought them to fore.
The result, Spielberg says is "part-mystery, part-detective story, as well as
a pure unapologetic adventure, all built around a tremendous story of
friendship, loyalty and belief between Captain Haddock and Tintin."