Daily Archives: 15 May 2007

If Steven Spielberg has a casting problem…

Tintin has for long been the favourite reporter in the land of sans serif. Because he gets to go to Tibet, gets to go to Egypt, hell, because he gets to go to the Moon before Neil boy—and never has to report the story.

Never once do you see our ace reporter tearing his hair at the desk for the right word or phrase, and never once do you see him waiting at a telegraph office to phone or fax his story.

Our favourite reporter never ages, his hair is always the colour as intended by its maker, and, what’s more, his bosses allow him to take Snowy along whereever he goes, even to Lady Bianca Castafoire‘s castle.

But, finally—finally!—revenge is here.

Tintin will have to work. Oh, yes. Tintin will have to work. The man who made ET and the man who made Lord of the Rings will make sure of that. You bet.

Steven Spielberg and Peter Jackson are, according to an AFP story, to join forces to direct and produce a series of three-films based on the beloved Belgian comic-strip hero created by Georges Remi better known as Herge.

According to a report in Daily Variety, the legendary film-makers would direct at least one of the films each, and serve as producers on all three. Tintin has been a long-time pet project for Spielberg, who finally secured the film rights to the comic series.

Jackson, has already developed a test film which had
brought the characters created by Herge to life.

Spielberg said the computer animation technology used for the films would be unlike anything ever seen. “Herge’s characters have been reborn as living beings, expressing
emotion and a soul which goes far beyond anything we’ve seen to date with computer animated characters,” Spielberg said.

“We want Tintin’s adventures to have the reality of a live-action film, and yet Peter and I felt that shooting them in a traditional live-action format would simply not honour the distinctive look of the characters and world that Herge created,” Spielberg added.

Jackson said although the movies would be computer generated, the characters would not look cartoonish. “Instead we’re making them look photorealistic,” Jackson said.

But if ever Speilberg and Jackson want a human character with some journalism experience to play Tintin, sans serif humbly suggests the name of Graydon Carter, the editor of Vanity Fair who always looks as he if he just woke up and walked out of the pages of Seven Crystal Balls.

Photo courtesy: raincoaster.com


Not a quill dipping into an almost empty bottle

Different professions have different emblems. Lawyers have the blindfolded lady carrying weighing scales. Doctors have the staff with two snakes. And so on.

What could be an ideal symbol/motif/model for journalists and journalism? Something, say, which could be used next to our “Press” stickers?

In Letters to a Young Journalist (Basic Books, 2006), Samuel G. Freedman picks on the Egyptian mythological figure called Thoth, usually portrayed with a body of a man and the head of an ibis, who often held a palette and reed stylus, accoutrements of a scribe.

“The Egyptians considered Thoth the god of writing, magic, time, and the moon. I think of him as the deity of journalism. I keep a small statue of Thoth in my office, and I frequently show it to my students on the first day of class. Some of journalism’s many critics would find a bitter irony in my veneration of Thoth. To them, one of the worst things about journalists is the way they play God—a judgmental, unfeeling, omnipotent God, inflicting pain for sport, weilding power without account.

“I find a different symbolism in Thoth. To me, and I hope to you, as well, he represents the moral mission of journalism and journalists. Thoth observes and interviews and analyses and evaluates, all the things journalists do, and he must act with integrity and accuracy, because he does indeed command destiny. If he fails, the very cosmos cannot function. And if we fail, democracy suffers the wound.”

On the other hand, Pete Hamill, the New York journalist who was editor of both the New York Post and the New York Daily News, while accepting the Columbia Journalism Award in 2000, zeroed in on an unlikely figure.

Don Quixote could be the patron saint of journalists. Or rather some combination of the idealisitc Quixote and the sceptical Sancho Panza.

“Every good journalist keeps mounting Rosinante and hefting a lance and riding out to do battle with the forces of darkness. Sometimes, the Sancho Panza within insists that the dragons are only windmills. But Quixote’s secret is that sometimes they are indeed dragons, and the brigands are brigands, and the damsels are in true distress and those who sneer are fools…

“Quixote is a model for another reason: he lives without fear.”

While the rest of the world was dicking around

The public cynicism about journalism and journalists is some times well earned; most times a triumph of vested interests trying to subvert the story from being told. But the news of a kidnapping, the terse telegram of death, injuries in the line of duty, and the general hazards of the occupation—like working in an office—show why there’s an increasing nobility in journalism; why there’s nothing to be ashamed about.

As Al Pacino, who played the CBS journalist Lowell Bergman, said in The Insider, “I was putting my life on the line when you were dicking around golf courses.”