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Watching this movie appeals both to general audience and international relations specialists who might have not been born in 1976. Being a researcher of international relations, I find the realistic voice and a down-to-earth portrayal of world politics something that speaks to the problems we face globally today. This narrative features some of the key global challenges that we face in 2016, with the themes such as conflict, security, societal and environmental concerns, and the way of globalization and interdependence framed in a universal perspective. It questions what the United Nations is, what it can do, and what states and individuals can do to build together a better world for everyone.
So, what the world was like 40 years ago and was portrayed in this film? The assumption that the world has got a lot of problems and that "the UN is not selling any easy answers" holds true. The conflicts and wars are still present, although in a lesser quantity, although, the governments still spend huge amounts of money on armaments while the developmental concerns are omnipresent. Steve Whitehouse, who narrates the film, brings up an important point: "The UN has been successful at stopping wars as much as the countries wanted it to be." As opposed to the Cold War time when the movie was created, we today note that "weather," and "disasters" are among the most serious security concerns globally, in the context of climate change and global warming. Poverty, inequalities, population growth, and economic and social aspects of life are figuring prominently, and are now part of what we know as the Sustainable Development Goals. But what the UN can do, the narrator asks. He concedes that it is "far from perfect, in a far from perfect world, " while "you have to do what you can" in this world that is hard to imagine without the UN.
"TO BE THIRTY was the official film for the Thirtieth Anniversary of the United Nations in 1976. I was co-writer and director with my good friend Steve Whitehouse, and David Sherman was Editor. Ivan Stoynov was Director of Photography, Gilbert Lauzun and Edward Magruder Jones the Producers, and Marcel Martin was Executive Producer. The assignment was to explain the evolution of the UN to a North American youth audience, and I was lucky enough to get musical rights to Pink Floyd's DARK SIDE OF THE MOON, which is one of the best selling records of all time. It was the first UN film to use anything resembling rock music , not to mention Pink Floyd. Politically, the film was a nightmare, thanks to the Cold War. As the great Czech director Ivan Passer told me after a screening, " You must have gone through a political minefield to make that one!" I couldn't have put it better myself. Thanks to the music and the radically different style of the film from typical UN Voice-of-God fare at the time, the film became very popular, and I am told it was the most popular UN film of all time, translated into many language versions. What makes the film really work is that Marcel Martin allowed us to be pretty honest about UN failures and shortcomings, so I was able to create an emotional arc for the narrator to follow. And , of course, the fact that the narrator was a real person, with feelings and opinions, made a huge difference. The narration was a dramatic monologue, rather than a speech, or a radio broadcast, and I spent a lot of time torturing Steve to get him in a suitably gloomy mood for the beginning!:) He was 30 at the time - I had just turned 26!:)"