When I saw the reports this Sept 11th about the breach of the U.S. embassy in Cairo and the storming of the consolate in Benghazi, I had a physical reaction. My first involuntary thought was, "How is this possible? Have we learned nothing?" My reaction surprised me. I mean, protests against the United States and burning the flag have become downright passé. I would have thought that I should be able to watch and analyze the events more dispassionately.
It was also around this time that I saw the trailer for the film Argo for the first time, and I felt the same physical reaction that I had on Sept 11th, only more so. It was then that I understood, and I remembered. The trailer actually did such a good job of tapping into my emotions that I didn't think that I could go and see the movie. In the end, I couldn't stay away. It was well worth my trouble.
Argo is a film "based on actual events" of how six U.S. embassy personnel, who made it out of the embassy during the confusion, were smuggled out of Iran with the invaluable assistance of Canada. So, in that way it's like Titanic. You know the ending. However, it is also a commercial film, not a documentary, but a powerful one.
I have to hand it to Ben Affleck (producer, director, and actor). In some ways, the movie is very formulaic, the one competent operative surrounded by a bunch of idiots. One difference, it really happened (with some editorial liscence). The story telling is very tight, and the tension is constantly building. Then there are the visuals, which feel so real. During the credits, they have comparison photos from history and the recreated shots in the film, impressive.
It was a time when it felt like the world was exploding. As Syria and Turkey trade fire at this very moment (among many other things), it feels that way again. Argo, a relevant and powerful movie for our time.