During the Iran Hostage Crisis, 1979 to 1981, six Americans managed to escape their embassy before it was overrun by Iranian students and militia. The six were taken into the residence of Canadian ambassador Ken Taylor, where they stayed for 79 days.
Argo covers the true story of the CIA and Canadian governments’ joint operation to rescue these six individuals under the guise of them being a Canadian film crew location scouting for a science fiction adventure movie.
We say, “Ask not what your country can do for you…”
HOWE: Being only nine years old at the time of the Iranian hostage crisis I didn’t really know anything about this. I can remember seeing on TV back then people burning either the U.S. or Iran flag but that’s about it. So when I caught the trailer and knowing Ben Affleck was directing, I knew that I would enjoy it.
TAYLOR: I remember images of the crisis on the news; my parents talking about it. I think my “terrorist paradigm” was probably formed by it. I knew at least some of the story, even as a kid. Then, when the CIA declassified its part of the operation in 1997, we all got a bit more. It’s one of those instances where life is like a movie.
HOWE: There are some lighter moments in Argo, the meeting at the producer’s home or some of the dialogue between Affleck, Alan Arkin and John Goodman. I just wonder if it went down like that seeing it was such a serious matter.
TAYLOR: This tale is “based on a true story.” Certainly, liberties were taken and that’s okay. The lighter moments helped make the story accessible and entertaining. The true aspects of the story were understandably extremely tense. I don’t fault Affleck for turning to humour for balance. It worked.
HOWE: Argo proves yet again that you don’t need to blow millions on special effects or gimmicks to make great movie, you just need a good script and cast. Another thing I liked about it was that it used actual footage from 1979/80, which melded nicely together within the movie. The whole film felt like it was shot in that era.
TAYLOR: Good film, well written, well directed, well performed. It did have a touch of that 1970s feel, a gritty plainness. Plus the actors were very well outfitted to look like the people they were portraying. Using the actual news footage was cause for nostalgia, and effective.
HOWE: Although Argo doesn’t really cover the Canadian aspects of the story, it’s still a great movie and a fair representation of a true tale we can all be proud of.
–– Howe gives Argo 4 smashed visa plates out of 5.
–– Taylor gives it 3.5 honourable Iranian housekeepers out of 5.
The film is currently showing at the Galaxy Cinemas in Vernon.
–– Brian Taylor and Peter Howe are both film critics living in Vernon, B.C.