Karen and I saw Argo yesterday, the film about the ingenuous CIA-Canadian rescue of the six Americans holed up in the Canadian ambassador’s Tehran residence in the aftermath of the seizure by Iranian militant students of 52 of their fellows at the American embassy in November,1979.
You may already have seen it, and even if you haven’t, I’d be doing you a considerable disservice to give you any details. Now don’t cheat by googling and miss all the fun. I promise you this film will keep you glued to your theater seat from beginning to end.
Of course, a lot of the film’s tension is orchestrated, since one of the six has recently shared that everything actually went like clock work. By the way, the hostages had three plans to work with, but chose this one, the film production guise, as the most likely to succeed and embraced it immediately. Not so in the film.
Other inaccuracies occur as well; for example, the Shah’s full name isn’t correct. Also, Premier Mossadegh was appointed by the Shah, not elected. Free elections haven’t been part of Iran’s history.
The primary roles of Britain and New Zealand in helping the Americans are ignored.
At the end of the movie, former President Carter says, “Eventually we got them all out.” I seem to remember an aborted rescue attempt somewhere. The truth is the Iranians spitefully released the hostages on January 20, 1981, or on Inauguration Day when Reagan took office.
But the movie overcomes its exaggerations, just maybe because it’s more fiction than fact, thus enabling its transformation into an intense, well-performed thriller that will surely catapult it into Oscar consideration. Ben Afleck, who directed the film, plays CIA agent Tony Mendez, with understated brilliance, replete with a 70s’ shag-carpet beard.
That last scene–a lumbering Swiss jet lifting its wheels, heavy trigger-finger revolutionaries in hot pursuit–Oh, my God!