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Monday, January 14, 2013

Argo: Spoiler Alert

I saw "Argo" yesterday and then searched around briefly to see how much the story was embellished. If you haven't seen the film and don't want to know the answer to that question, stop reading. NOW.

The film tells a great story about the CIA and the Canadian government helping 6 Americans from the U.S. embassy in Tehran escape Iran in 1980, months before the ~50 kidnapped hostages were freed.

The BBC has the details about the film's accuracy. :

Argo's final scenes are superbly tense, as the six [embassy escapees] make it onto the plane by the skin of their teeth. The CIA had given them false departure documents for which, of course, there were no matching arrival forms.
The big climax is a heart-pounding chase down the runway as gun-toting members of the Revolutionary Guard try to stop them taking off.

"Absolutely none of that happened," says Mark [Lijek, one of the escapees] .

"It's true there could have been problems with documentation - it was our biggest vulnerability.

"But the Agency had done its homework and knew the Iranian border authorities habitually made no attempt to reconcile documents.

"Fortunately for us, there were very few Revolutionary Guards about. It's why we turned up for a flight at 5.30 in the morning; even they weren't zealous enough to be there that early.

"The truth is the immigration officers barely looked at us and we were processed out in the regular way. We got on the flight to Zurich and then we were taken to the US ambassador's residence in Berne. It was that straightforward."
Lijek also says that the location scouting scene in the Grand Bazaar never happened. 

Put differently, a very large portion of the film's drama was manufactured to make for more entertainment. This does not bother me, but many viewers will probably treat the film as Truth.

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