Directed by Ben Affleck.
Written by Chris Terrio.
Argo is the new film by the star turned accomplished filmmaker Ben Affleck, who is also the star of the film. He takes the script by Chris Terrio, based on the real events taken place in the late seventies until early eighties, during the fall of the Iran’s last Shah and the rise of Khomeini, the Ayatolla, following the hostage crisis, where more than fifty American diplomats were taken hostage as for a demand to bring Shah home for justice, because after his fall he found refuge in the United States lands.
The film starts with a brief introduction to the history of Iran, which is really important to inform and establish the historical period and let us take a place in that world, as of a solid ground for us to understand the reality of the time and its cultural terms. Through this brief introduction we see real footage and recreated images of the hostage incident and the group of six members of the embassy that escaped. Then the film centers its story on these six members, four men and two women, and the work that the Americans and the Canadians went through to rescue them to their safe lands.
Argo feels in every way a Hollywood film, both in and out of the film’s depths. Ben Affleck plays the man, Tony Mendez, working for the CIA that comes with the best worst idea to rescue the six diplomats, which is to pretend to make a movie and shot it in Iran, and the six members being part of that production. So then we enter in this world of film producing and its infamous ways of business and it’s really amusing, with a great stand out to Alan Arkin and John Goodman’s characters; but still never forgets its serious story behind. I think one of the reasons why Argo is such a good script, is in the little details that always enrich the story, from historical point of views to the representation of the period of the time the film is set. Like when Ben Affleck (Mendez) is promoting the film to raise word of mouth in the media, someone asks him where they’ll be shooting, he says Iran and the man asks back, “Iran with an n?” I giggled amused, but it also tells the way people always confused and still probably do, these two countries; it also tells how difficult it is to the western civilization to understand and distinguish these countries. It may be legit at some point but it’s also frustrating to Iranians and Iraqi people, it’s like saying Chinese people look all the same to us, when the fact is that they’re as different from each other as we are. There’s also this footage where a man is saying that he is mad as the guy in the movie Network, “I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take this anymore”. That was really amusing too, but it also shows nonetheless how the people working in the government, the leaders, even the media, can turn apart a society, the devastation that creates; in this case, racism and xenophobia. This may be an obvious statement, but you realize at the same time that these men from the streets that Ben Affleck shows us in the footage throughout the film, tells us that the majority of people, at the period of time things happen, don’t really have a clue of the situation, the reality in the streets and so on. And that many times, I mean, basically, it’s not the civilians’ fault, in this case, the Iranians. And then, obviously, because of those statements people do, joined by the political influences of the past, it will cultivate the increasing hate for them, the western culture and people. Therefore, no Americans would be accepted in this country.
The facts are that in the early eighties, Iranian women would be killed in the streets, even if they were holding their four year old son’s hand, if some of their hair was showing or if they were wearing lipstick and it wasn’t like this before Ayatolla came to the power. So it was as of an extreme risk to get in and out of Iran, even if they weren’t Americans. The film comes to its last act and it is pretty Hollywood driven, using the known but right set of tools of suspense, the fast cuts, etc; the tension built is good and even if at some point we may start thinking they’ll make it (because it’s a film), and even if they do make it, it still feels like a relief and it’s still emotional.
So going back to the beginning, it doesn’t really matter to say if it is one of the best films of the year or not, at least I won’t say it. It’s actually a bit silly to say it, at least personally, because I couldn’t possibly have seen half the films of this year! What matters is that this is an accomplished film, both in its parts as in its whole. Some of the things I take from Argo is how important information and knowledge is, how important to know things and be aware, and then hard work and courage are also among the storytelling points. It is also about history, about different continent’s conflicts and cultural divisions and so on. And in this mix of Hollywood and world history, Argo it’s entertaining, it’s intelligent, it’s funny and ultimately a worth time.
Oscar Talk situation (if anyone bothers to read it): who cares if it is the Oscar film of the year? You realize how meaningless the sentence sounds?! I don’t really see it as an ‘Oscar’ film, even though it is a film with quality, period. Oscar film means that it’s the favorite of the year…again, at the end of the day no one will care if it wins or not and that’s what matters! As long as the film stays in our minds. Anyway, the talk is that it is the film that will very likely to stand in its feet until February. The question is if some ‘The Kings Speech’ comes and takes its spot or if other films are even better and more popular or if other film’s campaigns will be better. There are always a few options to consider.