Just How True Is Ben Affleck's Argo?
Ben Affleck's new film Argo was one of the big successes of the weekend. Though it was unable to overtake Taken 2 on top of the box office, it was a sizable success at $19.5 million, especially for a film made for around $40 million. With Oscar buzz galore and Affleck being crowned the new Clint Eastwood (that is, actor-turned-great-director), Argo has everything going for itů except, maybe, the truth.
OK, that's a little dramatic. Argo is indeed based on a true story, a CIA effort to retrieve six hostages from Iran by using a fake movie as a cover story. Joshuah Bearman wrote a Wired magazine story about it in 2007 and is credited for the film's story. But as a new article at Slate points out, Argo takes a few liberties with the past in telling its story, from the composite producer character played by Alan Arkin to the nail-biting ending that, in reality, was "smooth as silk." The way screenwriter Chris Terrio finessed the truth even got him and Affleck in a bit of trouble after the film's Toronto International Film Festival premiere, with some Canadians protesting that their government's role in the Argo mission was played down in order to make the CIA look like the real heroes.
If you've seen Argo you should definitely check out the Slate fact checking piece, though be careful not to take any of this too seriously. Argo is very careful to say it's based on a true story but not completely driven by it, and it's preposterous to think that any movie adaptation of a true story would stick letter-by-letter to the historical fact-- especially a movie as perfectly constructed in the Hollywood style as Argo. I knew watching the film that some of the more nail biting sequences probably didn't really happen, and it didn't bother me at all. You can choose whether or not you're annoyed--but check out this article to see where truth and fiction line up.
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