Our Man in Tehran (2013) (NTSC)

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Released 19-Nov-2014

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Documentary Interviews-Crew-Drew Taylor and Larry Weinstein (co-directors) (6:25)
Rating Rated PG
Year Of Production 2013
Running Time 85:41
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 1,2,3,4,5 Directed By Drew Taylor
Larry Weinstein
Studio
Distributor
Gryphon Entertainment Starring Ken Taylor
William Daugherty
Tony Mendez
Cora Amburn-Lijek
Mark Lijek
Bob Anders
Kathleen Stafford
Case Alpha-Transparent
RPI ? Music Asher Lenz
Stephen Shratt


Video (NTSC) Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.78:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 480i (NTSC)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.78:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles None Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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Plot Synopsis

     In November 1979 Iranian students, with the blessing of the Ayatollah Khomeini, seized the US embassy in Tehran and held over fifty Americans as hostages, precipitating a diplomatic crisis. Six Americans escaped from the Embassy and sought assistance from the Canadians, who sheltered their “house guests” for four months before an audacious CIA operation, supported fully by the Canadian Embassy staff and the Canadian Government, resulted in their rescue. This story was fictionalised in the Ben Affleck movie Argo; Our Man in Tehran is a Canadian documentary that fully reveals the true story of the extent of Canadian involvement in the rescue, told by those who were involved.

     Our Man in Tehran uses archive and news footage, some graphics and interviews with participants, journalists and a historian to reveal the story. The film does not commence with the seizure of the US Embassy but starts with twenty minutes or so about earlier events in Iran, including the Shah’s attempts to modernise Iran, the corruption, the secret police, the close relationship between the Shah, the US and successive Presidents, the conflict within Iran between the clerics and the government, the role of Khomeini and his return to Iran after the Shah’s departure. This background is worthwhile and informative, helping to explain that the seizure of the US Embassy was in fact a culmination of tensions that had been building for years.

     Our Man in Tehran then covers the capture of the Embassy by the Iranian students and the escape of the six diplomats who ultimately took shelter with the Canadians. It uses interviews with many people who were involved, including Canadian Ambassador Ken Taylor and his wife Patricia, other Canadian embassy staff members, US embassy workers Cora Amburn-Lijek, Mark Lijek, Bob Anders and Kathleen Stafford who were sheltered by the Canadians in their homes, and CIA operative William Daugherty who was captured in the Embassy and tortured by the Iranians. The film then covers the rescue of the six, including the fiction of a US film company and the issuing of fake Canadian passports by the Canadian Government, an almost unique action; interviewees at this stage include CIA operative Tony Mendez, who carried out the mission and was the basis of the character played by Affleck, and the Canadian Prime Minister and Foreign Minister at the time, Joe Clark and Flora MacDonald.

     Our Man in Tehran reveals the full extent of the active Canadian involvement in the rescue that was hidden at the time, including the gathering of intelligence that the US later used to launch their ill-fated attempt to rescue the hostages and the fake passports. It is also clear that Taylor at least was not happy with the elaborate “Argo” Hollywood subterfuge, preferring a much simpler cover-story! Truth is indeed frequently stranger than fiction.

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Transfer Quality

Video

     Our Man in Tehran is presented in the original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 and is 16x9 enhanced. While the DVD cover states that this is a PAL transfer, it is NTSC.

     The film uses archival footage, including news footage, to tell the story. The quality of this footage varies in sharpness and some includes interlacing errors and other artefacts. However the recent interviews are sharp and crisp with nice colours.

    There are no subtitles.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

     Audio is an English Dolby Digital 5.1 track at 448 Kbps. This is pretty much overkill as the documentary consists of interviews and archive footage. The interviews were clear and easy to hear, the surrounds used for the score. The only sub-woofer use I noticed was during the music under the closing credits, but it was not needed otherwise.

     The music score by Asher Lenz and Stephen Shratt was fine.

     As the film consists only of interviews lip synchronisation is not an issue.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

Interview with Drew Taylor & Larry Weinstein (6:25)

     Joint directors Drew Taylor and Larry Weinstein, interviewed separately, answer text questions about what influenced the film, telling the Canadian story, the input of Ken Taylor and working together. Short, but worth a look.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

     At this stage there is no listing of a DVD release of Our Man in Tehran in Region 1 US or Region 2 UK.

Summary

     “Our Man in Tehran” was how President Jimmy Carter labelled Canadian Ambassador Ken Taylor. Our Man in Tehran is an intriguing documentary telling the inside story of the Canadian involvement in rescuing the Americans and the risks taken by the Canadians in Tehran in the words of the individuals who were there. It is a fascinating piece on fairly recent events, the impact of which are still with us today.

     The DVD has good video and audio. The extra is short but worthwhile.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Ray Nyland (the bio is the thing)
Monday, January 12, 2015
Review Equipment
DVDSony BDP-S580, using HDMI output
DisplayLG 55inch HD LCD. This display device has not been calibrated. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.
Audio DecoderNAD T737. This audio decoder/receiver has not been calibrated.
AmplificationNAD T737
SpeakersStudio Acoustics 5.1

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