On reviewing classics and historical movies, or, I saw Argo

It’s an interesting question, isn’t it, about whether it’s necessary to alert people to possible spoilers for works that are regarded as classics, or that are based on historical events. Someone was apparently complaining, over in the comments for the Lizzie Bennet Diaries, about other commenters spoiling the story. I dunno; Pride and Prejudice has surely passed its statute of limitations on that sort of thing? And I do know of a man who was in Vietnam (as in, the country and the war) at the time of the Apollo 13 crisis, so when the movie came out, he didn’t actually know what happened – and initially thought it was fiction.

What about other historical events? A movie about Cleopatra? – she kills herself, spoiler! JFK? – the president dies! About WW2? – the Germans win!

Or other classics? Hamlet? – everybody dies! The Trojan War? – Hektor and Achilles die at Troy, while Agamemnon gets killed by his wife! (except that – what the HELL, Wolfgang Petersen? Seriously? What is Clytemnestra going to do now, live happily ever after with Aegisthus? You deprived yourself of making the Oresteia! Are you mad? I wanted Angelina Jolie for Clytemnestra, Helena Bonham Carter as Elektra, and Karl Urban as Orestes! Someone, make it happen…)


This line of thought has come about because I saw Argo last night, and my modern history is poor enough that actually, I wasn’t sure whether the hostages got out or not. I thought I knew, but wasn’t positive, and also wasn’t sure whether I wanted TO know before going in. 

Overall, it’s a really wonderful film. Incredibly tense; my companion was anxious throughout the whole thing, because her modern history is worse than mine, apparently. I though the cinematography was just awesome and nicely done to feel genuinely early-80s. I’m not quite up enough on my rock history to be sure that all of the music was era-appropriate, but I was ridiculously pleased when they put on (actually put on, on a record player) Led Zeppelin (Levee’s Gonna Break, fwiw). I thought all of the actors were great, and Affleck was outstanding, even under all of that hair. During the credits, they brought up pictures of the actual people involved, to show that they had cast people (and, obviously, used good make up) to make the principles actually look like their person.

Except. And this is my one gripe.

Affleck’s character’s name is skated over, in the film. He goes by Kevin Harkins while in Iran; he does at one point tell someone that his name is Tony Mendez. I didn’t think much of it at the time. During the credits, there’s a shot of the real Mendez – Antonio Mendez. Yes, he would indeed be Latino. And Affleck certainly does not look Hispanic. So I really am disappointed that Affleck, who directed the film as well, didn’t have the balls to cast an Hispanic actor in the role, and take on a lesser role for himself; perhaps the section chief.

Also, I don’t know whether it was shot in Tehran (I’m going to go with ‘no’), but it certainly makes it look like a gorgeous city.

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