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WORLD CINEMA

Other Movies

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The Interpreter:  Not lost in translation 
                                                          

Sean Penn and Nicole Kidman

A few years ago, when I walked into the United Nations in New York, I could never imagine that the majestic building would some day be converted into a film set.  The General Assembly and the Security Council evoke a deep sense of awe, the huge halls having witnessed the making and unmaking of history.

It is now quite another thing that the U.N. appears to have lost a little of its sheen, seems at times almost crippled by member States ignoring this world body’s enormous significance.

It is this context that Sydney Pollack’s latest movie, “The Interpreter”, gains credence and may add a little polish to the organisation’s jaded existence. Just opened in Australia,(April 14 2005) and slated for release on April 22 2005 in the U.S., the film has created not just images, but history. It is the first one to be shot in the U.N, and Pollack must consider himself to be extremely lucky, because even masters such as Alfred Hitchcock were denied this privilege. 

Hitchcock wanted to use the U.N. for his 1959 classic, “North by Northwest”, but could not get permission. So, the director had to be content with the exterior shots of the U.N. He did use a hidden camera to show Cary Grant walking up the stairs to enter the building. But no filming took place inside. Hitchcock had to recreate in a studio the U.N visitors’ lounge, where Grant sees the murder of a diplomat.

Pollack’s “The Interpreter” is mostly set well inside the U.N, and the movie will give audiences worldwide a great opportunity to see the corridors of powers. And, yes a thriller that promises to engage you completely.

 “The Interpreter” stars Oscar winner, Nicole Kidman (“The Hours”) as an African-born interpreter in the U.N. who finds out that an African head of state is about to be assassinated when he addresses the General Assembly.  Sean Penn, another Oscar winner (“Mystic River”), plays a Federal agent assigned to protect Kidman. But Penn is not sure whether Kidman is telling him the whole truth, even while the interpreter tries desperately to stay alive.

Pollack – who has the enviable record of 46 Oscars nominations for his previous films, including “Out of Africa” (it won the Best Picture and Best Director trophies), “Tootsie” and “They Shoot Horses, Don’t They?” – said in a recent interview that he managed to get permission to shoot inside the U.N. by meeting the U.N. Secretary General, Kofi Annan. When Pollack met Annan and said that “The Interpreter” was about diplomacy versus violence, and that he would never embarrass the U.N., the Secretary-General saw the point. Of course, Annan was familiar with Pollack’s work, and agreed to let the movie be shot inside.

There was one condition that Annan imposed: Pollack and his team must work only on those days that the U.N. does not work. Fair enough.

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(This story was posted on this website on April 16 2005)

 

                                   

                 

                 

                 

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