‘Argo’ offers new perspective of Iranian Hostage Crisis

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By Jackson Booth, Reporter

 

“Argo” is the gripping story of six Americans that escaped from the U.S. embassy in Tehran, Iran after a mob of protesters stormed the embassy, taking everyone hostage. These six escapees find the Canadian Ambassador’s house, and stay for months until CIA operative Tony Mendez, played by Ben Affleck, comes to their rescue. 

Most students were not alive during or old enough to remember the Iranian Hostage Crisis of 1979; however, the new film “Argo,” directed by Ben Affleck is an exceptional movie that chronicles the event in a different way.  

After finding out about the Americans that escaped, Mendez gets approval from the CIA to go to Hollywood and build a story for a fake film. The plan is that Mendez will create this film, pose as a Canadian film crew wanting to make a movie in Iran with the American escapees, and leave. He partners with Lester Siegel, played by Alan Arkin, and John Chambers, played by John Goodman, to produce the film.  Both Chambers and Siegel help Mendez in creating a fake Hollywood script-reading with a full cast, as well as artwork for this movie.

While the Secretary of State does not buy the idea at first, he later caves in and goes with Mendez’ idea. Within days, Mendez leaves by himself for Iran to accomplish this unique mission. Upon arriving in Iran, the tumultuous political climate is felt instantly. The minute Mendez steps off the plane, pro-Ayatollah Khomeini propaganda are seen all over the airport and city streets.  

Khomeini was the Iranian leader during the time of the hostage crisis. Many in the west saw him as a very conservative Islamist.  

Being a white male traveling in this anti-American region is a very daring thing for Mendez to do at the time, but most of the various government officials he runs into believe his cover as a leader of the Canadian film crew. 

Eventually, Mendez reaches the Ambassador’s house and meets with the six escapees.   The escapees initially are very hesitant to go along with Mendez’s plan. But during his visit, Mendez causes a scene when he takes the film crew for a stroll through the main Bazaar in Tehran.  The team has to travel through a mass of protesters who are very irritated at the crew’s presence and begin to attack their car. Eventually, the protesters make it home safely, but are startled nonetheless. 

“Argo” is an excellent film that everyone should see. 

The most intriguing aspect of this film is that “Argo” is based on a true story. This film is not only based on the events of 1979, but “Argo” was a top-secret CIA mission that was declassified in 1997 by President Clinton.  

Aside from the intense moments and suspense, “Argo” shows the reality of what transpired during those 444 days of unrest between Iran and the U.S. It also provides viewers with a more humanistic side to American foreign diplomats at work abroad. 

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