Tuesday, March 12, 2013

"Argo" and Mangled History

I was actually going to get around to this, but someone else has saved me the work.  Here, read this.  

I'm on the record as loving this movie, but if I had to point out the one thing that bothered me, the fly in the ointment, it was the intro that purported to give the audience the historical background to the crisis of 1979.  The whole thing was only a few minutes long, but I hated it.  Still, the rest of the movie was absolutely splendid storytelling.  The creative liberties taken for the plot and its fantastic drama were fine by me.  It was the intro that rubbed me the wrong way, because I'm sure it's given a whole bunch of ignorant moviegoers a totally wrong idea of what happened. Well, we  should all know better than to expect actual history out of Hollywood, for goodness sake.  But you knew that already.  

I have to say, though: What may be more remarkable - and worthy of praise in this age of "America is always the bad guy" media - is the fact that the movie does not attempt to make the Iranian hostage takers sympathetic.  It does not glorify them at all.  We are clearly shown the revolutionaries' brutality not only to the captured Americans but also to other Iranians.  I think the flick deserves some kudos for that.

The writer of the article is also quite exercised about the Jimmy Carter epilogue to the film.  I can understand his annoyance, but I thought Carter's voiceover spin-doctoring was so flat-out ludicrous that I just laughed it off.  Come on, all Jimmy's done lately is try to revise his (disastrous) legacy.  Nobody mentioned Ronald Reagan at all in connection with the end of the Iran hostage crisis, but he was the elephant in the room and was conspicuous by his absence.

Oh, you might want to read the 2007 Wired article that started the whole moviemaking ball rolling.  You may also be interested in the new book The Coup: 1953, the CIA, and the Roots of Modern U.S.-Iranian Relations.

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