Geospatial space has emerged as one of the most integral aspects to consider when shooting a motion picture. The geography of the area and place where the film is shot thus becomes the major contributor to the plot and the development of the significant characters and their roles. Argo, directed by Ben Affleck, is one such film which depicts the tale of American citizens trapped in Tehran during the height of the Iranian revolution. In a bid to rescue some six diplomats from the United States, the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) is forced to travel to the physical location (Jenkins, 2016, p. 16). They use the guise of a Canadian film crew whose intention was to shoot a sci-fi film during the height of the Iran hostage crisis (1979-81). Owing to the gravity of the historical events that the film touches on, it was tantamount to include the actual geography of areas where the occurrences took place. By so doing, the location would describe the incidents in an area where the revolution took place and therefore improve the films authenticity to the viewers. It was important for the director to have all these dynamics in the area to ensure that he creates an excellent movie that fits the narrative. In this essay, I will emphasize on the geographical perspective of the movie together with how it connects to the setting, plot, themes, and concepts.
The film’s setting is in Iran, a country located in West Asia bordering the Persian Gulf, the Caspian Sea and the Gulf of Oman. It is a mountainous country whose natural features have been responsible for shaping the country’s economic and political history (Afary, Anderson, & Foucault, 2005, p. 5). They enclose the basins which subsequently creates space for urban settlements such as Tehran which is at the center of the film’s plot. The setting is essential to the movie as this is where the actual events took place. Ben Affleck intends to use the major railroads and highways that were built through the mountains a way of connecting the urban centers to reconstruct a nearly forgotten tale of a group of diplomats in distress. It begins with an elaborate history of the illustrious Persian Empire to the period when the United States and Britain help elements within the country to overthrow their leadership in 1953. The genesis of the problem lies in the installed Shah of Iran who was pro-western, a factor that leads to his people ousting him in 1979.Having the movies setting in Iran was vital in elucidating the resentment that the Iranian people had for a Shah who whose claim to fame was westernizing the country. Ayatollah Khomeini replaces him as the supreme leader, and he is exiled to Egypt, then to the United States to receive cancer treatment (Axworthy, 2013, p. 64). It was this very action that led to the anti-American sentiments that were ever growing in Iran and would soon pit these two nations against each other in a show of might. Iran is vital to the film as the viewers can have a clear picture of November 1979 when militants decided to stage their protest outside the compound of the United States Embassy in Tehran. These individuals had come together to demand that the United States hand over the Shah to Iran where he will stand trial.
The emotional atmosphere is tense throughout the film. It raises a notch higher when the boundary fence is broken by some of the protestors, prompting the Americans to begin cautionary measures such as destroying the embassy records. It is at this moment that the embassy’s head of security is captured and held hostage. By a stroke of luck, six members of the embassy staff were in a building with direct access to the street below and use it to access Ken Taylor’s house, the Canadian ambassador to Tehran. The film is set against the backdrop of a populist revolt against the establishment that led to the overthrow of the monarchy and the cementing of an Islamic Republic (Mendez & Baglio, 2012, p. 55). Social discontent had been mounting in the 1970’s which would ultimately culminate in a revolution. Although the Iran had large deposits of petroleum, massive government spending had undone any economic progress that had been made earlier resulting in constant inflation and a rise in the cost of living. In addition to all these financial difficulties, the oppressive regime of Reza Shah Pahlavi created more sociopolitical problems that had directly led to the revolution that followed soon after (Wagner, 2010, p. 34). Staff from the United States embassy were already being held hostage with the CIA’s best option being their attempt to free the six diplomats. The Canadian film crew is meant to scout all the known “exotic” locations that would serve the sci-fi movie well which also happened to be a perfect opportunity to depict the geographical area. For instance, the lead agent takes a scouting visit to the local bazaar to play by the script where they film describes the vibrant Islamic culture although the crew gets into an altercation with a hostile shopkeeper. The steppe geography that is evident at the airport scene shortly before receiving their boarding pass also plays a significant role in the concept of conflict that existed between the Iranian National Guard and American citizens.
In conclusion, Ben Affleck’s 2012 film Argo represents the role of geographical locations in film productions. Using Iran as the film’s setting was vital in telling the story as it was in 1979 when the six diplomats found themselves trapped in a country that was openly hostile to Americans. The geographical elements in play are in congruence with the actual events which goes a long way in making the story more believable in the eyes of the viewer.