By Senior Editor, PK
They went to Iran to film a science fiction movie – instead they rescued six people from certain death
This is the best bad idea we have sir – “On November 4, 1979, as the Iranian revolution reaches its boiling point, militants storm the U.S. embassy in Tehran, taking 52 Americans hostage. But, in the midst of the chaos, six Americans manage to slip away and find refuge in the home of the Canadian ambassador. Knowing it is only a matter of time before the six are found out and likely killed, a CIA “exfiltration” specialist named Tony Mendez (Affleck) comes up with a risky plan to get them safely out of the country. A plan so incredible, it could only happen in the movies.”
I’m not into political movies, but I have to admit I’m actually excited to see Argo which is set to premiere in October. This is a wonderful moment in science fiction and comic book history, and while I understand this isn’t a real sci-fi movie, it’s fascinating to me that the pre-text of filming a real movie (especially a sci-fi one) was enough to allow a team of people into the middle of a civil war. It’s not like in World War 2 or Vietnam where reporters and camera-men would tag along with combat patrols, this was a team of fake movie-makers sent by the CIA to rescue American diplomats.
It wasn’t until fairly recently that this incredible tale was declassified by the American government, so for some you’re probably wondering why a CIA operation would involve the science fiction and comic book industries. CIA operative Tony Mendez cooked up what has to be one of the most brilliant plans in the spy trade, which ended up including people like Jack Kirby of X-Men fame, and John Chambers who is an award winning makeup effects artist who worked on the original Planet of the Apes movies. Through their associations, they contributed to the fake movie company that setup the believable back-story to allow Mendez and his team into Iran to begin their operation to liberate the six diplomats.
Wired Magazine did a truly wonderful writeup on this story in 2007, and I highly recommend reading it. So while some Hollywood studios are pumping out the latest “We’re going to blow your mind with this sci-fi story“, I think I’ll slip back into the past come this October and watch a story on one of the most amazing movies never made.