It’s not just your contrarian dorm-mate with the mutton chops and the Science of Sleep poster who didn’t much care for Argo. It’s also some fellows over in Iran. Ben Affleck’s 2012 espionage thriller, a true story about the CIA’s 1979 mission to rescue American diplomats from a hostage crisis in Tehran, has apparently provoked Iranian filmmaker Ataollah Salmanian to construct his own cinematic take on the account.
The Telegraph reports that Salmanian, hoping to highlight the heroism enacted by Iran itself as opposed to American institutions like the CIA (and Hollywood!), has set forth with a script from the perspective of Iranian revolutionaries who helped to free American hostages from wrongful incarceration. Salmanian tells The Telegraph, “The draft of the movie, Setad Moshtarak, has been approved by [Iran's] art centre and it awaits a budget to start shooting.” The film’s title translates to The General Staff.
Salmanian describes the events as he will depict them in his feature: “The movie is about 20 American hostages who were handed over to the U.S. Embassy by Iranian revolutionaries at the beginning of the revolution. This movie… can be an appropriate response to distorted movies such as Argo.” The display of a different vantage point on this newly popular Cold War episode is certainly a constructive endeavor, but does kicking off of the project with the branding of Argo as “distorted” indicate an attitude of contempt for Affleck’s picture’s depiction of Iran as a country? Are viewers, international or otherwise, recognizing Iran as the villain of the film, rather than simply a setting of peril?
If so, Affleck’s immediate concerns might surge beyond Academy snubs — in the wake of arguments pointing at Zero Dark Thirty as film with a pro-torture platform, and Django Unchained as an inherently racist film, Argo might be falling into the ball pit as a movie that, in its showcase of a situation, is watermarked with an agenda. But as is the case with colleagues Kathryn Bigelow and Quentin Tarantino, all Affleck wanted to do was tell a compelling story.
[Photo Credit: Warner Bros.]