The American embassy in Tehran was attacked and its residents imprisoned almost exactly 33 years ago, November 4, 1979. The 444-day ordeal of the hostage crisis burned itself into the American collective consciousness. It was America’s first contact with radical Islam. It was our first televised foreign policy crisis. It was the subtext for Jimmy Carter’s unsuccessful reelection campaign. And it has shaped US attitudes and policies toward Iran ever since.
Ben Affleck has taken the essence of the little-known story of how six Americans took refuge in the Canadian Embassy in Tehran and given it the full Hollywood treatment. While a lot of it rings true, there are parts that don't. But hey, this is Hollywood, not history, writes Gary Sick — enjoy it!
Most Americans — even the under-33 generation — have some recollection of those events: photos of blindfolded diplomats; angry crowds of bearded young men waving their fists at the TV cameras; wreckage of helicopters in the Iranian desert after the failed rescue mission; triumphal homecoming parades.
Several episodes, however, have largely been forgotten. Who recalls that 13 American black people and women were released by the Iranians in the first few weeks of the crisis in a crude bid to polarize American public opinion? And how many people remember the six Americans who hid out in the Canadian embassy after evading capture, and who were later smuggled out of Iran in full sight of the militiamen at Mehrabad Airport?