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Argo

Argo

By Patrick Samuel • February 28th, 2013
Static Mass Rating: 3/5
ARGO (MOVIE)
Warner Home Video

Release date: March 4th, 2013
Certificate (UK): 15
Running time: 120 minutes

Director: Ben Affleck
Writer: Chris Terrio
Composer: Alexandre Desplat

Cast: Ben Affleck, Bryan Cranston, John Goodman, Alan Arkin

Argo

1979 is a tough year for me to remember, being only year old when the news broke of militants storming the U.S. embassy in Tehran on November 4th. Piecing the events together through articles and history books in later years is somewhat different to being able to recall them as happened. Yet what took place in Tehran at that time is not something that can easily be summarised because first we have to understand what it must’ve been like for people to live under the Shah’s rule, and why militants might’ve been angry at the U.S. for taking him in after he was overthrown by the Iranian Revolution on 11 February 1979 and was diagnosed with cancer.

The storming of the embassy resulted in fifty-two embassy workers being held hostage while six diplomats (Robert Anders, Cora Amburn-Lijek, Mark Lijek, Joseph Stafford, Kathleen Stafford and Lee Schatz) managed to flee. Unable to get out of the country they manage to take refuge in the home of the Canadian ambassador while the CIA try to come up with a way for their safe passage back home.

Directed by Ben Affleck and based on an article by Joshuah Bearman, Argo is a film which recreates these events. At the start of the film we see embassy employees scrambling to burn and shred classified documents as the militants try to breach the building’s security. The tension is already high in these first few minutes, and after the six flee the action shifts to the United States State Department where they’re scratching their heads over a way to exfiltrate them from Iran before they’re captured, interrogated and sentenced for being spies.

Argo

An idea put forward by CIA specialist Tony Mendez (Ben Affleck) is to create a cover story that the escapees are Canadian filmmakers, scouting locations in Iran for a science-fiction film. Although initially considered too preposterous to even seriously consider, eventually Tony’s supervisor Jack O’Donnell (Bryan Cranston) realises the plan might actually work, and given all the other bad ideas they’ve thrown around – it’s the best of the bad ideas.

Getting the approval to go ahead, Tony’s put in touch with film producer Lester Siegel (Alan Arkin) who advises him that if he’s going to make a fake film he also needs a fake script and fake publicity to make it all look authentic if they stand any chance of getting the six back home. Meanwhile back in Tehran, the six are growing anxious about their situation. When Tony arrives and explains the plan to them they Argofeel even more hopeless. Joe Stafford (Scoot McNairy) is the most vocal in voicing his disapproval, but he might actually prove to be one of the group’s best assets when they almost get caught.

Convincing them it’s the best option they have to get out, Tony’s next step is to help them make their cover stories believable before the militants piece together the shredded documents and realise six of the embassy’s staff are missing. With time running against them, Argo is a film with many tense moments and sticks very closely to the (eventually released) official story, but it’s not short on humour either as we get a look behind-the-scenes at the movie industry during that time.

John Goodman plays John Chambers, a Hollywood make-up artist who previously crafted disguises for the CIA. He brings his usual amount of charm to the role and his scenes with Affleck and Arkin are probably an accurate description of how movie deals at the time were secured, and maybe still are. For all its humour though and the way it lovingly looks back at the movies studios were making at the end of the 70s, the real subject here is the 1979 Iran hostage crisis and how the U.S. managed to suppress the information about their part in getting the six home so as not to prompt retaliation and bring harm to the remaining hostages.

Patrick Samuel

Patrick Samuel

The founder of Static Mass Emporium and one of its Editors in Chief is an emerging artist with a philosophy degree, working primarily with pastels and graphite pencils, but he also enjoys experimenting with water colours, acrylics, glass and oil paints.

Being on the autistic spectrum with Asperger’s Syndrome, he is stimulated by bold, contrasting colours, intricate details, multiple textures, and varying shades of light and dark. Patrick's work extends to sound and video, and when not drawing or painting, he can be found working on projects he shares online with his followers.

Patrick returned to drawing and painting after a prolonged break in December 2016 as part of his daily art therapy, and is now making the transition to being a full-time artist. As a spokesperson for autism awareness, he also gives talks and presentations on the benefits of creative therapy.

Static Mass is where he lives his passion for film and writing about it. A fan of film classics, documentaries and science fiction, Patrick prefers films with an impeccable way of storytelling that reflect on the human condition.

Patrick Samuel ¦ Asperger Artist

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