At the European Comics Festival in Angouleme there was a live video link to Peter Jackson and Steven Spielberg how very briefly talked about the film. Forbidden Planet have an audio recording. It is not very good quality and the interesting bit starts at 3:10.
Who is Jamie Bell and why is he playing Tintin?
Bell – A Beautiful Mover
Before being cast as Tintin, Jamie Bell was best known for his staring role in Billy Elliot. Bell was just 14 when he took the title role in this story of a working class boy who wants to be a ballet dancer. The film is set against the backdrop of a grim mining town during the bitter, year long miner’s strike of 1984 and was one of the best British films of the last ten years. It has since been adapted into a book and a smash West End stage play.
Following such as huge hit is difficult for any actor, but for a child actor such success can destroy their career and their life. But between Billy Elliot and getting cast as Tintin, Jamie Bell went back to basics and built his career from the ground up. He played a role in the low budget, World War I horror film Deathwatch with his future Tintin co-star Andy Serkis (Captain Haddock). Bell then had a small role in the 2002 version of Nicholas Nickleby.
Jamie Bell and the Youthful Looks
His next film, Undertow, did much to make it clear that Jamie Bell could make the leap from child actor to adult actor. The 2004 film stars the 18 year Bell as a troubled teenager on the run from a murderous uncle. Through the film split the critics, the performance of Bell and his co-star Devon Alan won them Young Artist Awards from the Young Artist Foundation.
There is no doubt that in winning the part of Tintin, Jamie Bell’s youth was significant. Having played one trouble teenager in Undertow, he played a similar role in Dear Wendy. This idiosyncratic film is about a group of gun-totting pacifist and was written by experimental film maker Lars von Trier. The Chumscrubber was Bell’s next film and once again he was playing a troubled teenager, though as a change of pace, this is a dark comedy. Here the focus is prescription medications, video games and the false ideal of middle class American suburbia.
Serkis & Jackson
His next film brought him back together with Andy Serkis. Bell got the part of Jimmy in Peter Jackson’s King Kong. Though only a minor role, it was no doubt that it was directly responsible for the casting of Jamie Bell as Tintin. Working with Serkis, Jackson, motion capture and a massive budget provided a great learning experience for Bell and a chance to shine before Peter Jackson.
Finally breaking through into more adult roles in his next film (though for Jamie Bell, Tintin may be a step back in this regard) with Hollywood legend Clint Eastwood. Flags of Our Fathers traces the story of the men who raised the flag on Iwo Jima and were captured on film by war photographer Joe Rosenthal.
Then it was back to playing disturbed characters in low budget, UK films as Bell starred in the award winning Hallam Foe (Mr Foe in the US). Playing a part completely unlike the clean cut, asexual Tintin, Jamie Bell is the eponymous Hallam Foe. A voyeur with dark obsessions about his dead mother. The film won various awards and Bell was nominated for Best Actor in the British Independent Film Awards.
Another CGI, high budget film was next for Jamie Bell in Jumper. This was poorly received by the critics and was summed up by one reviewer as “A tightly made film that could have been so much better. “
Jamie Bell – Dirty and Dangerous
Having played numerous troubled teenagers in various dark film, there was one more before Jamie Bell became Tintin, and this was the Mother of all dark subject matters – the holocaust. Just released in the UK, Defiance is the story of Jewish resistance fighters in Eastern Europe. The film placed Bell alongside Daniel Craig who is to play Red Rackham in The Secret of the Unicorn. </p
Tintin – Once, Twice, Three times?
Jamie Bell as Tintin is a great choice. He is an experienced film actor who can deliver great performances. Of special importance to motion capture films like The Secret of the Unicorn is the ability to move. Billy Elliot showed he has clear control of his body and in action films like Deathwatch, Jumpers and Defiance he has shown the right fighting dynamism to be Tintin. What will be interesting is what human qualities Bell will bring to Tintin. The comic book character is very flat and stereotyped, rarely displaying emotion except when angry at a bully or worried about Snowy. Getting the balance between making Tintin a living breathing character for the audience to empathise with and staying faithful to the books will be a difficult piece of acting.
If Jamie Bell pulls off Tintin, then at least one more film awaits. Peter Jackson is set to direct the second film and there is the possibility of a third. Though not confirmed, it seems likely that production of the second film will proceed soon after the first has finished. Probably adapting Red Rackham’s Treasure, the second part of the adventure started in The Secret of the Unicorn. If studios run to form, this will be released a year after the first. Production of the third film will only start if the first film proves to be a success.
Bell’s Big Chance
As Tintin, Jamie Bell has a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Working with Spielberg with a huge budget and an internationally famous character co
uld springboard Bell into Hollywood’s A-List. Becoming an action film hero and a sex symbol along the lines of Harrison Ford and Matt Damon is entirely possible. But that requires the film to be a smash and that is no easy thing to achieve, even when working with Spielberg and Jackson.
Simon Pegg, one of Britain’s leading comedy actors, has a big puff piece in the Sunday Times including an anecdote about meeting Spielberg.
…when he gets a call saying Steven Spielberg would like to meet him.
So he trots over to the motion-capture set for the ET director’s latest project – the first in a trilogy of Tintin movies. Motion-capture sets are bizarre, empty places. The event has been shot and is held in a computerised camera, which allows the director to swoop around the scene. As a result, there is only a computer guy and Spielberg sitting there.
“Steven’s smoking a stogy, cap on head, like he’s always been since I was a baby,” Pegg says, shaking his head in wonder. “I shook his hand and chatted about films. He gave me the mo-cap [motion-capture] camera, and I had a play around with it. Then he said, ‘Hey, maybe you and Nick Frost could play the Thompson Twins.’ In Tintin. A Spielberg movie. To work with him is beyond .. . ” He trails off, lost for words.
Source: Simon Pegg: He’s Mr Popular
Tintin movie director Steven Spielberg has a busy schedule with the latest Indiana Jones film coming out soon, a biopic of Lincoln on the cards and of course, one of the three Tintin films. He is also working on The Trial of the Chicago 7, due to star Sacha Baron Cohen. Problems with scheduling actors and a potential actor’s strike are causing problems for the production. What this means for the Tintin movie is unknown.
At a special luncheon with bloggers and online-writers, Steven Spielberg talked at length about upcoming projects including Tintin. Spielberg confirmed that Tintin will be all motion capture rather than pure animation. This is the technique that was used for Gollum in Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings trilogy. It creates a base of highly realistic movements onto which the directors can build their CGI characters.
At the same event, Spielberg also talked about who would direct the third film. Peter Jackson and Speilberg are currently down to direct the one of the Tintin movies each. No names of alternative directors were mentioned but if they cannot find someone for the third film, then Jackson and Spielberg will co-direct it.
Problems Facing the Tintin Movie
I love Tintin. Growing up with dyslexia meant that I always struggled with written words so discovering Tintin was revelation. The beautiful images and fast moving, boys-own style adventures made Tintin’s world real to me in a way that a book never could. Over the years I have revisited Tintin many times and got something new out of it each time but one of the things I’ve pick up is that Tintin isn’t written very well. Before I get ripped to shreds by rabid fans, I need to be clear about what is wrong with Herge’s writing and why this could result in some terrible films.
Tintin and Amazing Coincidences
I’ve got Secret of the Unicorn in front of me as an example. Tintin goes to the market where he meets Thomson and Thompson who are investigating a spate of thefts by pickpockets. Tintin spots the model Unicorn and decides to buy it for Captain Haddock. Just then not one, but two other people try to buy it. After fending off these other buyers, Tintin presents the ship to Captain Haddock who immediately recognises it as a model belonging to his ancestor. Adventures ensue as the other parties interested in the ship try and retrieve it and the clue it contains. Eventually the bad guys are arrested but two of the clues that were hidden inside the ship have been stolen. Fortunately these are recovered when Thomson & Thompson’s catch the pickpocket who had lifted the wallet carrying the clues.
This chain of coincidences stretches credibility. Its a large coincidence that Tintin would happen to buy a model ship sailed by Captain Haddock’s ancestor but one that can be swallowed. However that he buys it just before the two other interested parties also discover it purely by chance is stretching credibility. Add on the whole pick pocket angle and the coincidences become too large. Rather than build a credible, coherent plot, Herge’s has chosen to hang everything on a series of coincidences. This might be a deliberate and clever style of plot construction but it strikes me as bad or lazy writing that posses all sorts of problems for making a Tintin movie.
Tintin: The Next Harry Potter?
The Tintin movies are being made now because the first time, technology allows the film makers to create a real universe and not just an animated version of Herge’s art. This would not matter if it wasn’t for the success of the Harry Potter and the Narnia films. Studios have seen that creating a faithful, high quality adaptation of a children’s book can draw in lots of adults and not just those with kids. This poses the makers with two problems. Firstly they have to make a faithful adaptation of the books and secondly they have to make a good film that appeals to adults who aren’t not die-hard fans of the books. With the Harry Potter and Narnia films they achieved this but can it be done with Tintin?
I don’t think they can. What mainstream film’s plot is so dependent on coincidences as in The Secret of the Unicorn? None. Sure, in action sequences you see heros dive out of windows and just happen to land in a pile of boxes but that isn’t the same thing. Audiences accept that because it makes the film exciting and dynamic. Coincidences that drive the plot are something else entirely. This leaves the film makers two options. Change the plot and nature of Tintin (thus angering the fans) or just do a faithful adaptation (thus alienating the non-fans). Neither of these option will make a good film.
Once the film makers start altering Tintin to fit the big screen, as they must, I think the magic of Tintin will unravel. What makes the Tintin books so enjoyable is the farcical nature of the plots but I don’t think these will work on the big screen. Modern films, even children’s films, are relatively complex where as Tintin, despite the busy and detailed artwork, have a simplicity to them. To recreate the magic of Tintin on the big screen the makers of the Tintin movie have to get a square peg into a round whole. Jackson and Spielberg are great directors but this may be beyond even their talents.
The Technology Behind the Tintin Movie
Peter Jackson’s WETA Digital is the Oscar winning digital effects studio created by Peter Jackson for the Lord of the Rings trilogy. Based in New Zealand that have reportedly already created a 20 minute show reel of how the Tintin movie might look.
Dreamworks is Steven Spielberg’s animation and production company and is probably most famous for the Shrek films. Expect the Tintin movie to be as visual rich as Shrek but with far more of the photorealistic detail found in the Lord of the Rings films.
Steven Spielberg: Director of a Tintin Movie
One of the greatest living film directors, probably the most successful ever, he has been behind more blockbusters than anyone else. His films, Jaws, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Indiana Jones, ET, Jurassic Park and Saving Private Ryan have all had a huge impact on popular culture and set high standards in film making. On the downside he can be horribly smultzy with lovable small children and heavy handed moralizing. His track record of adaptations, e.g. Jaws, Schindler’s List, War of the Worlds and Minority Report, shows that he has an understanding of the sources though he is not afraid to pull the key aspects of the story out and rework everything around them. Whatever Spielberg’s Tintin movie comes out like, we can be assured of high production values and great sense of mainstream entertainment.
Full details of Spielberg (but not of the Tintin movies yet) on IMDB.
According to FilmStew.com:
..there will be no honey bunny for Tintin in the first of three motion capture animation films now being planned for 2009 release by the formidable tandem of Peter Jackson and Steven Spielberg.
This according to an anonymous Moulinsart estate company source quoted in London’s The Times newspaper. Says he or she: “I’m sure the accountants in Hollywood would love some of that in there, but they can’t do it. We have approval over that just to make sure they don’t totally ruin it . . . But there is room for some artistic license.”