Saturday, March 16, 2013


Argo won the Oscar for best picture. It is a good movie, but not a great movie. The politics of the movie are somewhat confused. The open sequence gives a brief background of Iranian political history. It had been a kingdom for millennial. In the 1950s, it democratically elects a president. The president nationalizes oil companies. The Americans and British don't like that and decide that oil trumps democratic ideology. They put the Shaw in power. He is friendly to the west and attempts to westernize while looting the country. Finally in the late 1970s, the Iranians take back their country and the Shaw sneaks out. Ok. So far, Americans = bad guys. Then we go to the American Embassy. All these evil Americans are hanging out in there. They are preventing the evil dictator from getting his just rewards. We should side with the students that want to jump in the embassay and take hostages, right?

Well, no. At this point, the politics shift. Now the Iranians are bad guys and the Americans are the innocent workers who happen to be trapped in the embassy. The good-guy Americans aren't going to release the Shaw. Instead, they are going to start some great secret mission to get the Americans out.

Now that the story movies back to "raw raw" America, we discover that 6 of the embassy workers managed to escape and are now hiding out in the Canadian embassy. The CIA hatches a few plans to get them out. One involves riding bicycles 300 miles to the Turkish border (in winter!). Then one guy comes up with the genius plan of making a movie. They go through great details to get a real script and make it all appear to be a real movie. It seems ok and a lot of work is done to set it up. He goes off and tries to get them out.

The escape is melodramatic. Everything seems to come through at just the last minute. We even get a chase where vans are zooming after an airplane that is about to take off. Is this real?

No it isn't.

Yes, it was based on a true incident. However, the melodrama was greatly amped up in the movie. The "super-close-calls" were actually not that close. And the runway chase? Well, nothing even close to it happened. In this case the melodrama was pumped up just a little too much, moving it from exciting to pure fanciful. With a little more restraint, this could have been a better movie.

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