Yesterday we went to see Argo and, unlike Master, it lived up to its billing by the New York Times. I can remember exactly where I was standing in the cafeteria at college when I first heard the news that our embassy in Iran had been stormed and hostages taken. Then, like the rest of the nation, I listened every evening for news of their release only to hear Walter Cronkite end his report with, "And that's the way it is, January 16, the 50th day of the Iran hostage crisis." And it went on for 444 days, until Ronald Regan was sworn in as President and that day, the hostages were released. And, what does all this have to do with Argo?
Argo is the movie that tells the story of 6 Americans who escaped the embassy as it was being stormed and how the CIA got them out of Iran - alive, in public, in plain sight before the Iranians could round them up. Ben Afleck directs and stars in the movie. Great pains were taken to make the film look like it was filmed in the late '70s. The movie scenes and authentic newsreels blend together, such that at times you question which you are seeing, but is doesn't matter because they are telling the same story. No exaggeration is needed. Truth is more nail biting than fiction here. Even though you know the outcome of the story, Afleck's movie has you sitting on the edge of your seat, with your heart racing.
Oh, there are odd characters (who were really part of the story) that just add to the color of the movie. The story starts with the storming of the embassy, but when the plan proposed to extract the 6 Americans involves the Academy Award winning make-up artist of the Planet of the Apes (John Goodman), a grumpy award winning Hollywood producer (Alan Akin), an ace CIA field operative, and the Canadian Ambassador, perhaps there was a reason the State Department questioned the plan as the CIA's "best bad idea?"
I don't know where the 2 hours we were in our seats went. Certainly it took more than that amount of time to get that much story told. But the story is told and told well. And, if the mission had not been declassified during the Clinton administration we would never had known of this tale of heroism, of fear, and of international cooperation. (Personally, I am all in favor of us not knowing everything that goes on. There are certain things a government needs to be able to do without the press looking over its shoulder and personally, I hope there are lot more people like Tony Mendez and missions like Argo that go on.)