I had a most excellent Mother’s day this year. Jordan took me to the flicks and we escaped to the Land of Oz for a date with Oz the Great & Powerful. The Emerald City was much greener than I remembered and the Yellow Brick Road more vibrant. I thoroughly enjoyed it.
Later, we stuffed our faces with curry and that evening, decided to watch the film Argo. I had seen the Oscars so I knew it had won three but, what I hadn’t realised was that it was based on a true story.
The film itself is excellent and the acting first rate…of course. The storyline is quite unbelievable really which is why I suppose the plan worked in the first place; I mean, if someone said to you, ‘’let’s pretend we’re a movie crew scouting for a location and, let’s pretend we are Canadian. Oh and let’s go to a country where the people are currently baying for star spangled blood’’, would you agree to it? Would you sanction such a crazy plot if you were the President of the United States? Of course in 1979, this would have been President Carter, he who will forever be associated with nuts……
The fact that they pulled it off is quite amazing, a high coup indeed. For the sake of movie suspense, I’m pretty sure some event timings in the film were manipulated, but that’s to be expected isn’t it, that’s why they say ‘based’ on a true story.
Anyway, I really enjoyed the film. The lead character ‘Tony Mendez’ (that man really has some balls by the way) is played by Ben Affleck who looks great even with a beard. The Canadian Ambassador ‘Ken Taylor’ is played by Victor Garber who is, as always, quietly excellent in his portrayal (you may remember him as the man who built the Titanic). However, there was something about the film that was bugging me and I couldn’t quite put my finger on it……….Monday morning at 5am, my subconscious gives me a kick and boom there it is, as plain as the nose on my face; what about Sahar???
In the film, the American ‘escapees’ are given refuge in the home of Ken Taylor, a home that he shares with his wife and their young Iranian housekeeper ‘Sahar’. The group never leave the house and this is (of course) noticed by Sahar who is now in a bloody awful position isn’t she? On the day that Tony Mendez escorts the group from the house to take them to the airport, the Iranian Securities visit and question Sahar through the gate (fortunately it’s closed). She lies. They leave.
We all know it’s about to kick off, we are reaching the climax of the film. We see the group at the airport, we see the Ambassador and his wife get ready to leave the house and somewhere in amongst it all we hear that ‘Sahar is on a train’.
Before the film ends, there is a small clip of Sahar standing in a queue. When she reaches the desk and hands over her papers, the official stamps them and says ‘welcome to Iraq’…….Iraq! There are all kinds of questions unanswered but for me the two most important are: Did she even know anyone in Iraq? And, was she given enough money to start a new life because, let’s face it, she can never return to her old one can she!
In the film, this loose end is conveniently tied up and put away but, for me, it was only put away in my subconscious for a short while……..until it screamed blue murder at me.
I don’t know much about Iran but I do know quite a lot about Turkey and if this was a young Kurdish girl, I can’t think of a much worse fate for her. Sahar is a headscarf wearing Muslim, just like my sister in laws who don’t even go to the market on their own let alone another country. Sahar is unmarried and I think its safe to say then that she would have been a virgin; a young Muslim virgin in a very male dominated foreign country with no family and no protection!!! Are we naïve enough to think this is a happy ending for her? Left with no choice but to flee her country or face, well, what? Let’s see; Sahar has betrayed her country and lied to the revolutionaries. I can’t see them taking too kindly to that can you? I do believe the death sentence was alive and kicking in Iran in 1979.
Tony Mendez and the group get away and eventually arrive safely in the USA. The Canadian Ambassador and his wife get away. The Americans that were held hostage in the Embassy were eventually released and returned home.
Ken Taylor, his wife and staff are awarded the ‘Order of Canada’. Ken Taylor is also awarded the Congressional Gold Medal by United States Congress. Tony Mendez receives the ‘Intelligence Star’ (although he is not allowed to keep this until many years later when the operation was declassified). He is also personally thanked by President Carter. Absolutely right as far as I’m concerned. These people were incredibly brave but…..
All of these people returned home in one piece, each one of them went home to their family, their own country and got on with their lives with a familiarity that is inherent to a native and I’m sure there was much celebration for all but……..what about Sahar?
What the hell happened to her? She is the real story here. If we are going to have a drama about this event, then let’s have it for real. Everyone else went home, everyone else has a great story to tell their grandchildren, everyone else got on with their lives surrounded by their loved ones. For everyone else this was undoubtedly a terrifying episode but, an episode all the same. One that lasted a few months for some and a year for others but, for all, it did end.
An end to the nightmare for all but one so, I ask again, what about Sahar?