Argo (Warner Bros., 2012)

Argo is a newly released movie from Ben Affleck. The film is based on the evacuation of six American embassy workers in Tehran, Iran during the revolutionary takeover of the embassy in the late 1970’s. What makes this film different than most docu-dramas is that the historical facts would not be plausible if merely written by Hollywood.

The six workers escaped the embassy during the takeover and hid out with allies. Tony Mendez of the CIA concocted a fanciful cover story that allowed him to fly the workers out of the country in full view of the the Iranian Revolutionary Guard. After Mendes created a backstory in Hollywood, he assigned movie production roles to each of the workers.

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Jimmy Carter congratulates Antonio Mendez on the successful Operation Argo in 1980. (U.S. Government)

The acting and the action are both excellent. Viewers will be fully engaged in what is transpiring on the screen. The only possible complaint with this part of the movie is that Affleck played the lead role of Mendez. The other characters had uncanny resemblances to the actual people involved. Mendez, a Latin American, was played by the Bostonian Affleck. He performed well as did the entire cast. This includes some of the minor characters especially the woman who played the Iranian housekeeper.

The audience that we were a part, was primarily people of an age who recalled the Iranian hostage crisis more than thirty years ago. I would hope that the under forty crowd will take in this movie so that they can have a better grasp of the events that we are facing today.

Our audience in Boynton Beach, FL was comprised of a high percentage of Jewish viewers. That should not surprise anybody since the Iranian government continues to pose a serious threat to the nation of Israel. In fact, the theater erupted in applause near the end of the movie and at the end.

As with any two hour presentation of real events for dramatic effects, some details of history were merged together. But from all I have read, the story stayed exceptionally true to the facts. The viewer gets a great glimpse into the Iranian streets, horrors and the steeled character of those who disagreed with their government. During the credits, news clips are placed beside movie clips to show the great similarities.

An important lesson for American viewers is to consider that we do not and cannot always know the details of what our government may be doing on behalf of our security. President Carter and his administration are generally characterized as inept in the dealings with our enemies. Valid reasons for this characterization exist. However, neither Carter nor the CIA could publicize this successful mission at that point in history.

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Embassy Workers Meeting with President Carter. (White House photo)

One final note – the embassy workers in real life seemed to buy into the cover story of being a Hollywood production team. When one of the workers viewed the movie at it’s premiere, he made this comment,

The film’s biggest shock? The voice over from Jimmy Carter at the end. In comments about the incident that I had never heard before, Carter says our chance of success was 50 percent. 50?! I thought it was much higher. Another gut check. Would we have gone with Tony at 50 percent?

I’ll never know.

Mark Lijek in “I Was Rescued From Iran

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