Argo: Conservative? Liberal? or Just a Good Movie?
Here’s the critics’ take from both sides of the political aisle.
We went to see the film Argo last night. The film takes us back to the Iranian hostage crisis of 1979 for a sidebar (“the Canadian caper”) regarding the rescue of six State Department employees who had escaped from the American embassy at the time of the embassy’s takeover. The true story of their return from Tehran to the United States courtesy of the CIA was declassified by President Clinton in 1997.
The film comes wrapped with a canned liberal history of the rise of the Ayatollah at the outset and an audio voice-over by President Carter (who authorized the audacious removal operation) over the credits. Each is grating in its own way, but mercifully brief. The incredible story told by the film in between is a heart-stopper that reignites all the emotions we felt during the hostage crisis and feel again, if to a lesser extent, today.
I came away from the film with deep gratitude to the government of Canada in general and to Canadian Ambassador Ken Taylor in particular for their part in the operation, as well as to the indomitable Mendez (CIA Operative).
This is the rare kind of film that the audience applauds at the end, as ours did last night. Although the film alters and gilds the true story to enhance the drama of the escape, I highly recommend it. Scott Johnson, Powerline
And now the Liberal Critique:
Aside from a pro-Jimmy Carter coda and a few asides that show America’s support of the repressive Iranian monarchy of Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, Ben Affleck’s Argo is essentially and overwhelmingly right-wing, pro-American propaganda, demonizing Iran as backward, barbaric, and fanatical–which is particularly problematic considering the United States’ rising tensions with Iran.
Sure, Affleck is depicting a moment of national crisis in Iran, when the country was gripped with an extremist Islamic fervor, but I suspect Iranian historians would have told Affleck’s production team that not every single Iranian was a screaming, violent, fundamentalist.
I don’t intend to be an apologist for the 1979 hostage-takers, or the barbarous actions of the current Iranian President, but to depict the Iranian people as a scary mob is an injustice of media representation.
You have a movie that is deeply and fundamentally conservative American propaganda. Anthony Kaufman, IndieWire