Matthew’s Monday Movie: “Argo”

In light of the recent escalation in hostilities between the United States and Iran, I feel it’s a good time to recommend an excellent film that helps trace the history of the long-brewing conflict between these two nations.

Argo is a film that was directed, produced, and starred by Ben Affleck. The film details the Iranian revolution of 1979, during which the Shah of Iran, who was despotic and pro-western, was removed from power by Islamic fundamentalists. In the process, Iranian revolutionaries stormed the U.S embassy in Tehran and took sixty Americans hostage. However, unbeknownst to the Iranians, six embassy staffers escaped and were hidden away in the Canadian ambassador’s home.

Back in the United States, it falls to CIA agent Tony Mendez (Ben Affleck) to find a way to infiltrate the country and then escape with the six embassy staffers. In one of the more audacious and bizarre moments in history, a plan is conceived to make cover I.D.’s for the staffers and portray them as a film crew scouting locations in Iran for a sci-fi fantasy film akin to Star Wars. To do so, Tony must travel to Hollywood and find a producer and film studio to make it appear that they are in pre-production of the film without letting in on the fact that it’s a total fake. Once in Iran, it’s a race against time as the Iranian revolutionaries attempt to track down the missing staffers while Tony works to smuggle them out of the country.

Argo is a fantastic suspense-filled caper and was widely praised by critics. It was nominated for seven Academy Awards and won three including Best Picture, Best Adapted Screenplay, and Best Film Editing.

Argo is available at the Union University Library. It is rated  PG-13 for some violence and mild profanity.

 

Matthew’s Monday Movie: “We Were Soldiers”

Director Randall Wallace has written, produced, and adapted many moving stories into outstanding motion pictures, such as Braveheart, The Man in the Iron Mask, and classics like Secretariat. In 2002, he brought to life the harrowing true story of how on November 14th, 1965, the brave men of the U.S. 7th Cavalry found themselves in the first major battle of the Vietnam War.

We Were Soldiers stars Mel Gibson as Lt. Colonel Hal Moor, who has recently been chosen to command the U.S. 7th Cavalry.  Knowing that war is likely imminent in Vietnam, Moor must train his soldiers in the use of helicopters as a way of getting them into to battle. Moor quickly bonds with his enlisted men and earns the respect of his officers. Secretly he fears the ominous legacy that the 7th Cavalry has incurred ever since it was nearly wiped out in the past at the Battle of the Little Bighorn. When tensions escalate, the 7th Calvary is called to Vietnam. Unsure of where the enemy is, Moor’s orders are simply to find the enemy and destroy them. The eventual battle would come at the Ia Drang valley.

The North Vietnamese Army had been wanting to lure U.S troops into a trap, and as fate would have it, this proved to be a perfect opportunity. After Moor and the first detachment arrive, they soon learn they are severely outnumbered and are being pinned down by large numbers of NVA troops. The men of the 7th Calvary are cut off and surrounded on all sides, and they risk being annihilated like at Little Bighorn. Over the next four days, Moor and his men fight for survival day and night against frightful odds.

The film also cuts to the home front where Moor’s wife Julia (Madeleine Stowe) decides to help look after the soldier’s wives back on the base once they start receiving news of some of their husband’s deaths. We lastly see the story through the eyes of a young combat reporter, Joe Galloway (Barry Pepper), who documents the sacrifices of the young soldiers. Joe Galloway would later go on to author the book “We Were Soldiers Once and Young” detailing the accounts of the battle Ia Drang Valley. Victory in the battle finally comes for the Americans but at a terrible cost, and it becomes clear that, as a result, the war in Vietnam will only escalate in its scale and ferocity.

So many movies on the Vietnam war attempt to shock and dehumanize both sides of the conflict; this film stands out because it shows the bravery and humanity of both the Vietnamese and Americans who died fighting.

We Were Soldiers is available at the Union University Library. Please note it is Rated R for intense scenes of warfare.  We are also happy to provide you with the book that this film is based on and adapted from.