Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Argo, The American Version

    Argo is a movie recently released in the US.  Directed by Ben Affleck, the film concerns the escape of 6 Americans from Iran. As the movies' orientation indicates, Hollywood had embraced the political ambitions of Washington since long ago. The production and recent screening of this movie signals to the world that the infamous American film industry collaborated with the CIA (Tony Mendez) then in 1980 and now to produce their version of the 1979 story. Argo reveals an untouched aspect of the takeover of the American embassy in Tehran  without  providing sufficient resources  to the real reasons behind the event. A short picture animation   of the history of US intervention in the internal affairs of Iran and the coup d'etat of 1953  at the beginning of the film is not enough  to convince the viewers that this will be a balanced and non politicized account of the story.
In an  interview with reporters Affleck confirms this direction  "It was really inspiring to meet Tony. He was steeped in this movie. It was Tony's story, Tony's point of view," 
Tony Mendez is the  CIA  operative who used Hollywood to forward his agency's agenda once in 1980 and now once again,  for the purpose of creating hostility against Iranians on the silver screen, at a time when sanctions and threats against the Iranian nation have escalated.
In that interview, the director also claims that his film is based on historical accuracy. That probably means the kind of accuracy that sees only fragments of history preferable to certain politicians . Those fragments are depicted  such  that  the humane and innocent demeanor of the Americans and the wild and hostile actions of the Iranian students would be set in clear contrast. The people who occupied the embassy are never identified in the movie as college students, whereas this is a very clear historical fact. The education and academic identity of many of those involved is now known and some of them have served sentences or are still imprisoned for their reformist views and political activities.

In addition to historical flaws and mishaps, the film lacks many of the basic qualities of a documentary or reworking of a historical event. It seems that the producers went on a hasty mission to produce a movie commissioned by certain agencies to enhance public American morale against Iranians in such difficult times. Personally speaking I expected much more.

There had been many events during the 444 days that could have been covered by the movie industry and this is a criticism also directed to Iranian directors and producers. During the early months of the crisis, many women and Afro- Americans were freed following the orders of Imam, 50 American activists, journalists and academicians were invited by the students, the first gathering of freedom seeking movements in Tehran was convened and many more events which indicate that the students were endeavoring to connect and establish dialogue to convey the concerns of the Iranian nation and the excesses of the American government. (book

The real question naturally goes to the producers ,directors and the script writer . Why does this production touch so lightly on  the  historical realities of the years before the embassy takeover and the hostility  created by the foreign policy of the US government.  Americans had staged a coup d'etat in Iran in 1953, overthrowing a popular Prime minster and installing a monarch that would impose his tyrannical rule for 25 years on a nation. In addition, they refused to recognize the democratic aspirations of the people in the 1978 Revolution and continued to destablize the newly established Islamic Republic by all means.
 Did  Ben Affleck and George Clooney realize that the  American government had caused Iranians 25 years of brutal dictatorship, during every dark moment of which it had supported the suppression, torture and devastation the Shah had brought about for millions of Iranians.  It seems  that they underestimated the affliction that their government had brought about for this nation or perhaps they  need not to think about humanity, but about the interests of their government whose support is essential for the  top box records of their movie.
Did they for a moment consider the movie industry as a means to promote dialogue and understanding among nations to counter the hostility created by governments and to enhance global peace?
Nevertheless,  Argo is still an opportunity to revisit the turbulent history of relations between Iran and the US.

 If  we could classify the film industry  in terms of public diplomacy, unfortunately this film gives the impression  that Americans are in no position for reasonable and mutual understanding and dialogue.  They are still insisting on the supremacy they aspire in the world and see no one equal in the global equation.

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