Sunday October 14, 2012
I’ve been looking forward to seeing the movie Argo since I first heard it was coming out. And on Saturday night, I joined other moviegoers at the Grandin Theatre to see if it lives up to the hype. It does. Argo is an amazing period piece and a successful thriller - no small accomplishment since we know how the story ends.
I just wish the filmmakers had added a few words at the end. And I wondered if anyone else in the Roanoke audience felt the same way.
In the spring of 1980, I was two weeks into an internship at WDBJ7, when we learned about the failed attempt to rescue the 52 American hostages who were captured when the U.S. Embassy fell. Eight U.S. servicemen died in the Iranian desert when a helicopter collided with an air tanker. One of those heroes was a 21-year-old Marine from Roanoke named John Davis Harvey.
Argo tells a different story about a different rescue months earlier, when six Americans who had taken refuge in the residence of the Canadian Ambassador posed as a Canadian film crew to make their escape from Iran. Their safe return, and the events depicted in the final scenes of the movie, came months before the unsuccessful rescue was even attempted.
So what should the filmmakers have added? Argo isn’t a documentary, and it doesn’t attempt to tell the story of the aborted rescue mission.
In a line near the end of the film, the script notes that the embassy hostages returned home safely after being held for 444 days. Unless I missed it, there was no mention of the unsuccessful rescue attempt, and the men who died there.
Argo does a masterful job reflecting the danger faced by the six American State Department employees and the CIA operative who engineered their escape. I won’t be surprised if the cast and crew are nominated for several Oscars, and I’ll be rooting for them to win. I just wish the script had included a few words acknowledging the sacrifice of a young Marine from Roanoke, and the seven other servicemen who died trying to rescue 52 Americans.