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Not happy, Iran, with a Hollywood movie? Argo make your own.

Iran was not pleased with Ben Affleck's Oscar-winning 'Argo,' so it is planning its own take on the diplomat rescue drama. Political retaliation through moviemaking is an established practice.

By Staff writer / March 13, 2013

Actor Ben Affleck is shown in a scene from his Oscar-winning film 'Argo.' Iran has objected to the film's portrayal of the 1979 hostage crisis at the US Embassy in Tehran.

Courtesy of Claire Folger/Warner Bros Entertainment/Reuters


Los Angeles

The Best Picture Oscar-winning “Argo” has so piqued the Iranian government that not only does it plan to sue (whom, where, and how TBD), it is planning to tackle Hollywood on its home turf.

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The Iranian Art Bureau has announced it will fund a movie of its own entitled “The General Staff” about how six American diplomats were spirited to safety during the 1979 Iranian revolution.

It might even appear at a movie theater near you.

Political retaliation through moviemaking, however, is hardly a new phenomenon, note movie experts, who say the fact that Iran has moved from issuing fatwas to producing films in response to what it considers offensive works of art speaks to the power of movies as political props.

“Movies have always been political,” says Prof. Lester Friedman, chairman of the media and society department at Hobart and William Smith Colleges in Geneva, N.Y. Nations as well as individuals have long used the power of film to persuade both at home and abroad, he says.

An Iranian version of “Argo” is not likely to play much outside the home country, he points out, but adds, “this is part of the point,” namely, to counter outside influences and control the narrative for your own constituency.

This was certainly the case in the Soviet Union in 1982 in the aftermath of the Oscar-nominated “Reds,” director and star Warren Beatty’s take on radical writer John Reed during the Russian revolution.

Soviet officials reportedly were miffed by the depiction of an American who was at first besotted by the radical ideas of the revolution but who lost faith as the totalitarian aftermath set in. They immediately gave the green light to an ambitious multi-part film saga dubbed “Red Bells,” says Northeastern University Russian expert, Harlow Robinson, who is currently finishing a book on Russian cinema.

Mr. Robinson, who was a graduate student in the Soviet Union at the time, is quick to point out that while it was highly unlikely that the film “Reds” would have been seen by many Soviet citizens during such a closed period in its history, the government still felt the need to promote its own version of history.


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