Monday, April 25, 2005

Is Nicole Kidman a Flack for the U.N.?

According to this (admittedly right-wing) opinion piece, Nicole Kidman's latest movie "The Interpreter" is a piece of shameless pro-UN, pro-ICC propaganda. Now that seems perfectly all right to me, as long as it's a good movie. After all, movies like "Top Gun" and "Behind Enemy Lines" are basically advertisements for the U.S. Navy, so why can't the U.N. give it a shot? The key question: is The Interpreter a good movie (I welcome comments)? It appears to be doing well, although I am fairly confident its success will have little to do with the American public's feelings about the U.N. or ICC.


Anonymous Yuval Rubinstein said...

Yeah, that UN can be such a pain, especially when it sends an American law professor to Afghanistan, and he has the gall to point out human rights abuses by the US military against Afghan detainees. But that's OK, as the global hegemon, we can just order the UN to get rid of this pesky interloper, right?

4/25/2005 11:27 AM  
Anonymous Jeff V. said...

Finally, a question that I -- as an incoming 1l (at Columbia) -- feel qualified to answer! I don't think that The Interpreter was a particularly good movie. The political side of the movie was not the type of thing that would make anyone think. The dialogue was laborious; it felt like Sean Penn decided that he had to say everything twice as slow as he normally does. Finally, the plot was so-so. The twists were predictable and un-exciting.

If the movie was meant as some sort of free advertisement for the U.N., I don’t think it did a particularly good job. Movies like Top Gun, the Bourne Identity, or the Spy Game usually do a better job of portraying their government protagonists as doing romantic and exciting work. A Few Good Men even made a Naval JAG lieutenant – a job that the average joe probably would not have looked twice at when the movie came out (this was before JAG, the TV show) – look like he was the savior of democracy. By contrast, The Interpreter somehow manages to portray the UN as a boring series of staid speeches in dimly-lit, drably furnished corridors. Of course, that’s probably an accurate depiction of the UN’s day-to-day duties, but I don’t think it would make people jump out of their seats to become UN interpreters.

Honestly, if conservative anti-UN types are worried that The Interpreter will somehow foil their political agenda regarding the place of this body in international affairs, this seems an awful lot like jousting mightily against windmills to me.

4/25/2005 1:29 PM  
Blogger Internationalist said...

As someone who worked at the UN last summer, I agree with Jeff V. that the movie itself is not terribly exciting: poor dialogue and predictable plot. My biggest gripe with the film, however, is the decision to use a black African country (albeit a fictional one) as the scene of a genocide. As somebody I was watching the movie with pointed out, "At least it made it easy to tell the good guys from the bad guys." In the end, the movie is a rallying cry for the ICC, but almost shows the most perverse side to international criminal law: people in this made-up country are being killed daily and we're going to serve the leader with a piece of paper indictment?

There were some nice sound bites by Nicole Kidman concerning her feelings for the UN that probably only those of us who have been truly smitten by the "UN bug" will fall for. But the best part, and the reason I went to see the movie at all, were the inside shots of the UN. Now I know what the Delegate's Lounge looks like.

4/25/2005 10:41 PM  
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