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Pollock scores where Hitchcock failed

GAUTAMAN BHASKARAN

Sydney Pollack shot inside the U.N. for "The Interpreter." Will the privilege work in the movie's favour?



THRILLER: Nicole Kidman as The Interpreter.

Sydney Pollack's latest film, "The Interpreter," soon to be released in India, is bound to get movie buffs overtly curious. For in focus is the U.N. If the dwindling regard for the world body is a cause for immense concern, India's efforts to find a berth on the Security Council have made the U.N. a part of even drawing room conversations.

"The Interpreter" will open against this background. But there is more than mere political ramifications here. "The Interpreter" created not just images, but history. It is the first to be shot in the U.N, and Pollack must consider himself extremely lucky, because even masters such as Alfred Hitchcock were denied this privilege.

Permission denied

Hitchcock wanted to use the U.N. for his 1959 classic, "North by Northwest," but was firmly but politely denied permission. So, the director had to be content with exterior shots of the U.N. All he could do was to show Cary Grant walking up the stairs to enter the building. Hitchcock had to hide the camera to avoid unwelcome attention. 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. However, some reviewers seem disappointed, and say that it is neither political nor exciting. "The Interpreter" stars Oscar winner, Nicole Kidman 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 plays a Federal agent called in to protect Kidman. Pollack, who has the enviable record of 46 Oscar nominations for his previous films, said in a recent interview that he managed to get permission to shoot inside the U.N. by meeting the 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. did not work. Fair enough.

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