Tags: argo | iran | cult | hit

'Argo' Taking Iran By Storm

Thursday, 31 Jan 2013 11:19 AM

By Cyrus Afzali

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An American thriller movie depicting a CIA raid undertaken to rescue six diplomats at the height of the hostage crisis in Iran has become a cult hit throughout that country.

Sales of counterfeit copies of the Oscar-nominated “Argo” are popular among a wide socioeconomic spectrum, ranging from fruit peddlers and teachers to government leaders and the Basij militia loyal to President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, reports The Wall Street Journal.

Bootleg sellers attribute the sudden rise in popularity to the fact that the DVD is now available with Farsi subtitles, which they say has helped to sell several hundred thousand copies.

The Ben Affleck-directed movie presents a different version of the 444-day siege of the American embassy in Tehran from the official version in Iran. The Tehran government positions the siege that lasted from November 1979 through January 1981 as a move necessary to beat back influence in Iran by Western nations.

Rasoul, a 28-year-old film student, told the Journal the movie’s popularity was because Iranians are tired of their leaders’ hostile posturing. “It's time for us to be friends with the world and the U.S. again," he said.

As some 70 percent of Iran’s population is under 30, most of the country now knows of the hostage crisis only through history books and government-sponsored anniversaries.

A spokesman for the hostage-takers described the movie as “a weak interpretation of the truth,” saying the students weren’t the angry mob that was depicted on the screen. Other Iranians point out that while the CIA mission was successful, a subsequent military mission failed and led to 52 hostages being held for more than 14 months.

But Ibrahim Yazdi, the foreign minister at the time of the hostage crisis, believes Iran and its citizens paid a high price for the hostage crisis because it led Iran’s leaders to believe violence was a strategy that would not only be successful in moves against outsiders, but also its own citizens.

The fact that opinions differ within Iran on the issue is perhaps one of the reasons that an obscure Iranian filmmaker, Ataollah Salmanian, announced this week that he will make his own movie giving Iran’s version of events.

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