MagazinesPost Magazine

Film focus

Kenny Hodgart

 

The success of Ben Affleck's Academy Award-winning film Argo hasn't been without its attendant controversies.

Diplomats from Britain and New Zealand objected to the notion that they refused to help six Americans on the lam after the United States embassy in Tehran, Iran, was stormed by militants during the 1979 Islamic revolution. Then Iran itself - backed by a French lawyer who happens to be the wife of ultra-left-wing terrorist Carlos the Jackal - announced it would be suing Hollywood for showing the country in a poor light. In other words, for portraying it as full of spies, religious fundamentalists and shouty people with beards, rather than as the very apogee of secular liberalism, which of course it is.

Lucky then that we have Discovery Channel to lay bare how the Iran hostage crisis really played out, in Argo: Inside Story (above; Saturday at 11pm), a no-holds-barred documentary exposition of the truth. The CIA's "chief of disguise", Tony Mendez, is the key man here, explaining how the covert operation to smuggle the six out of the country under cover of a fake sci-fi movie project was planned and executed; and indeed why it was all kept secret for the following 20 years.

It's a compelling tale, even if you know how it ends or have never considered the CIA capable of telling a straight story. Mendez, for instance, recalls a stamp pad running dry while he was forging some documents at the Canadian ambassador's home and having to improvise to get the ink flowing again: "I went over to the liquor cabinet and got a bottle of scotch and poured some on [the pad]." Bingo: it worked. US spooks 1, teetotal revolutionaries 0.

 

Share

For unlimited access to:

SCMP.com SCMP Tablet Edition SCMP Mobile Edition 10-year news archive
 
 

 

Login

SCMP.com Account

or