Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Argo, a movie review

In 1979 when the Iranian hostage crisis hit, I was a young mother, with three small children. As a history major, I had a good sense of Iran’s past, but knew little about where it was in those turbulent days. What was in the news was the Shaw of Iran, Mohammad Rezā Shāh Pahlavī, escape by the skin of his teeth to the U.S. Who it was rumored had solid gold toilets, while his people suffered in horrible poverty. Situations like that are breeding grounds for anarchy, think the French revolution. This is all I cared to know about Iran back in the 70’s. To be interested in it any further than that was too time consuming, after all I was knee deep in two sets of diapers. I didn’t give the Islamic cleric, who took over the country a second thought. Of course years later, it is a big concern for all of us.
When I went to see Argo it was a step back in time. The memories of news clips jarred me back into a time when I was so much younger and very naïve. I couldn’t imagine anything happening to us like 911.
Ben Afleck did a remarkable job, bringing the times back to life. His portrayal of Tony Mendez, a down on his luck CIA agent was remarkable. I feel the character on the brink of falling apart like his personal life. The crisis he found himself in the middle of, gave him true purpose. He wasn’t the hero type, but knew his job and what it meant if he was caught trying to help six Americans hiding in the Canadian embassy. To create a movie script and company to bring those six out, was nothing short of genius, and destine to fail.
Every moment the hostages were on the screen it was filled with tension. They dripped with terror. The consequences of what could happen to them if found out, was beyond imagination. As Mendez said, “If caught they’ll die horribly.” Public executions were common place during the time period. They lived in that horror day after day, and it only escalated with the appearance of Mendez, playing the role of a movie producer. To convince the hostage what he was about to do only instilled more fear. They had to become actors and learn their lines and roles overnight.
Right to the end I was on the edge of my seat. I knew the outcome or thought I did. Like the rest of the world, I gave the Canadians a round of applause for getting the American’s out, back in 1979. No one until 1997 knew the true story and how they really escaped to safety. The movie was so well done I questioned my memory up to end, trying to recall if indeed they did make it out.
This is a must see. If you remember the crisis it was a cool to have memories ignited by the film footage. Afleck I think will be an Oscar contender. Walking out of the theater with my hubs, we talked on and off for days about those times, and how if there were cell phones and fast computers Mendez would have never been able to pull it off. Thank goodness for the lack of technology.