Having watched Argo this evening, the movie based one the “Canadian Caper”, I was intrigued as to how closely it followed the actual events. This all happened the year before I was born, so I had no personal memory of events. I suspected that the dramatic ending was a result of events being Hollywoodized, but certain inaccuracies really surprised and disappointed me.
Ben Afflek talking of the Canadian involvement:
Because we say it’s based on a true story, rather than this is a true story, we’re allowed to take some dramatic license. There’s a spirit of truth”, and that, “the kinds of things that are really important to be true are—for example, the relationship between the U.S. and Canada. The U.S. stood up collectively as a nation and said, ‘We like you, we appreciate you, we respect you, and we’re in your debt.’…There were folks who didn’t want to stick their necks out and the Canadians did. They said, ‘We’ll risk our diplomatic standing, our lives, by harbouring six Americans because it’s the right thing to do.’ Because of that, their lives were saved.
And of the way the New Zealand and British involvement is portrayed:
I struggled with this long and hard, because it casts Britain and New Zealand in a way that is not totally fair. But I was setting up a situation where you needed to get a sense that these six people had nowhere else to go. It does not mean to diminish anyone.
Diminish is not the word I would use. To be clear, in the movie, it’s stated that other embassies turned the Americans away. In fact, they took them in and sheltered them at great personal risk. The decision was taken to move them to the Canadian Ambassador’s residence on the grounds of safety of the Americans.
It appears that Hollywood has taken to opportunity to produce a film that makes themselves out to be the heroes, whilst diminishing the role of the Canadian Embassy and turning the role of the British and New Zealanders from heroes to heels.