“… just another one of these viewpoints [on the hostage crisis], but arguably the most fun to watch.”
With its release in 2012 the consensus on Argo was “I liked it, but what about the Canadians?”. Despite their invaluable part in the successful exfiltration of six American citizens during a hostage situation in Iran in the 70’s, the ‘Hollywood’ version of the story seemed to gloss over their involvement. Being a patriot I too was outraged that my country was snubbed by Argo, but of course that was before I knew the full story. So almost seven years later, after having read the book which details the first-hand account of what actually happened, I sat down and watched Argo once more.
So the first thing to understand about Argo is that it’s a movie first and foremost. It’s not a documentary, and to my knowledge it didn’t work with anyone involved to make sure the story was factual. It wanted to make something that was enjoyable for the audience. The book, which claims to be the true account of “how the CIA and Hollywood pulled off the most audacious rescue in history”, is only marginally like the Ben Affleck-directed film.
Canada getting the boot is only a small change in a sea of otherwise fabricated plot points made to put the audience on edge and immerse them in the scenario. And in that sense Argo did a good job. It was a little strange to me that the film started off by giving the audience context in the form of a cleverly presented storyboard sequence if it was just going to change so much about actual history, but I see Argo as a ‘what if’ scenario rather than something that is completely baseless.
Honestly I think the CIA should be a lot more upset than Canada because, at least by the account of the book, what was a very calculated plan was presented in the film as being haphazard and a ‘flying-by-the-seat-of-your-pants’ operation. This of course added to the tension in the film, but as far as I’m aware it’s not at all like the actual events.
But the thing about a story like Argo is that we might never learn the truth. The fact of the matter is that it was a CIA operation that wasn’t declassified until almost 20 years after it took place. In that time countless stories emerged of people detailing the event with what little information they had which caused a variety of viewpoints and versions, each of which slightly different than the last. Argo is just another one of these viewpoints, but arguably the most fun to watch.
I give Argo a B