The Adventures of Tintin marks its tenth anniversary since the Steven Spielberg-directed animated film opened in theaters in 2011.
In watching The Adventures of Tintin, one gets this sense of an Indiana Jones vibe going on. The main difference is that Tintin (Jamie Bell) is a journalist and not an archeologist. It’s the aforementioned Indiana Jones spirit that makes Spielberg the perfect director for the what is supposed to be the first installment of a franchise. Remember that? This was supposed to be the first film! Peter Jackson was announced to direct the second film if I recall correctly. The Hobbit trilogy certainly impacted Jackson’s schedule. The pandemic, too. Maybe now he’ll get back to work on it since he’s no longer knee-deep in The Beatles: Get Back. Any Tintin mentions during the recent press tour?
Even though it’s an animated film, I love how the motion-capture process allows Spielberg to treat it like a live-action film. Where Disney had models that helped inform how animators would animate, motion-capture is a completely different animal. The process allows filmmakers to make an animated film but drawing largely upon live-action. We see it in the work from Jamie Bell, Andy Serkis, and Daniel Craig among the rest of the cast. In the end, the result is a beautiful film with a classic flare.
The script draws on three volumes of Hergé’s Tintin books: The Crab with the Golden Claws (1941), The Secret of the Unicorn (1943) and Red Rackham’s Treasure (1944). The basic gist of the film is that Tintin and Snowy join forces with Captain Archibald Haddock (Andy Serkis) in searching for the Unicorn‘s treasure. Haddock is the last living descendant of Sir Francis Haddock (Serkis in a dual role) and their search pits them against Ivan Ivanovitch Sakharine (Craig). Sakharine is a descendant of Sir Haddock’s nemesis, Red Rackham. As we follow their adventure, one can see how Spielberg is able to pay homage to his previous work in Raiders of the Lost Ark.
I didn’t watch the film in 3D when it first came out ten years ago. Nor did I watch it in 3D upon rewatching for the film’s anniversary this week. One thing that I appreciate about Spielberg is that he’s not using it for a gimmick.
John Williams makes a big change in his typical process as he works on his first animated film. Moreover, he was working on the score early on in the process while they were still in the animation stages. Per the bonus features, Williams employees “the old Disney technique of doing music first and have the animators trying to follow what the music is doing.” As soon as Michael Kahn had a rough cut turned in, Williams had to revise some of the musical cues.
Utilizing a small orchestra, Williams throws it back to 1920s-1930s European jazz for the film’s opening credits. When it comes to the battle at sea, it’s a classic pirate theme. Musically, Snowy gives Williams a way to “make things light.” All in all, there are so many elements going into place but it’s John Williams serving as the piece that glues it all together. His work in the film earns him one of two Oscar nominations for the year.
Listen, I have my own feelings on the HFPA and give credit where credit is due. They got it right by awarding Best Animated Feature to Tintin. This is more than the Academy, which basically ignored the film outside of score. It is a complete shame because we rarely even discuss the other nominees anymore let alone the winning Rango. It begs the question of whether we should wait a few years to before deciding if something is truly the best of the year.
Even in directing animation, Steven Spielberg does what he does best with the animated motion-capture The Adventures of Tintin. If anything, the film’s tenth anniversary should get people talking about Tintin and start asking when are we going to see the sequel.
DIRECTOR: Steven Spielberg
SCREENWRITERS: Steven Moffat and Edgar Wright & Joe Cornish
CAST: Jamie Bell, Andy Serkis, Daniel Craig, Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, Gad Elmaleh, Toby Jones, and Mackenzie Crook
Paramount and Columbia released The Adventures of Tintin in theaters on December 21, 2011.
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