Everyone I’ve talked to about “Argo” (all Americans) loved the first 5 minutes—you know, the quick history lesson about the half-century of the US (and partially the UK) screwing over Iran, covertly deposing its leaders and trying to reshape its government for our convenience.
It made the movie not only accurate and real, but it kept it from being simple and propagandistic. When a mob mentality threatens the Westerners when they’re walking around in Tehran, it’s informed by that context and you understand how things got so tense. And it does this without taking the Iranians off the hook for their own brutalities. It was a pretty nuanced and—to most people I’ve talked to about it—a pretty balanced-feeling portrayal of history.
But Iran doesn’t like it. They don’t like it one bit. The New York Times reported yesterday that the Iranian government will finance their own version of the “Argo” story—a movie innocuously called “The General Staff”—that aims to “correct what it says are numerous distortions of the historical record in ‘Argo.’”
Yesterday’s Oscar nominations surprised many by snubbing Ben Affleck in the Best Director category for “Argo.” But historical inaccuracies probably weren’t part of the oversight. For his part, Ben doesn’t understand what the Iranians could possibly find fault with.
“I’m not sure what the Iranians found wrong,” Affleck told the Times. “It will be amusing to see what they take issue with. I think the Iranians know the true story of the Canadian involvement.”
The film’s director Ataollah Salmanian said, “This film, which will be a huge production, should be an appropriate answer to the film ‘Argo,’ which lacks a proper view of historical events.”
But, you know, this is a movie financed by a government whose president is one of the world’s pre-eminent Holocaust deniers. So its “proper view of historical events” probably deserves at least a few grains of salt.