Blimey. Some kids go off backpacking to India and they get all sorts of ideas! All right, so Steven Spielberg is not exactly a kid at 66 (though at heart…) and he was really in Mumbai to celebrate the success of Lincoln with financing partner Reliance Entertainment. But the ever-busy director/producer always has something on the go, and he’s announced a new DreamWorks film to be partly set on the India-Pakistan border.
The new project seems partly inspired by Spielberg digging up a treasure trove of photographs his father Arnold took while serving as a technical sergeant with the 409th Bombardment Squadron in World War II. While on leave, he would visit what was then known as Bombay and Calcutta.
"That was the first time I really became aware of what my father did in the war," Spielberg tells the Times. "He spoke about it a lot to me but I didn't really have any visual references. And what I saw looked beautiful and extremely friendly. There are lots of photos of Indian kids just running around jeeps and hanging out with these young American servicemen – my dad was the oldest at 27 – and brilliant shots of elephants and cows and people and marketplaces and bazaars! Just the day-to-day lifestyle of India was so vivid."
The director made some of Indiana Jones And The Temple Of Doom in India, and shot scenes for Close Encounters there. But he’ll find someone else to direct the untitled new film, which is currently at script stage.
In related Spiel-news, DreamWorks has also picked up the rights to reporter David Finkel’s upcoming book Thank You For Your Service. It tackles the Post Traumatic Stress Disorder that affects soldiers returning from conflicts such as Afghanistan and Iraq. Spielberg has yet to decide if he’d direct it, but it appears DreamWorks is assigning a big-name writer to the project. PTSD is certainly getting the spotlight, film-wise at the moment: Tom Hardy’s also developing Samarkand, a drama about an SAS soldier struggling to re-assimilate into civilian life, and it's a theme touched on in Steven Knight's Hummingbird as well.
Speaking of Spielberg co-productions, he was asked once again about the Tintin sequel, which seems to be taking a while (largely because Spielberg and Peter Jackson have been a little busy with other things). "Don't hold me to it, but we're hoping the film will come out around Christmas in 2015,” he said. “We know which books we're making, we can't share that now but we're combining two books which were always intended to be combined by Herge." Oh, we’ll hold you to it, Mr S. We’re tenacious that way.