Salmon Fishing in the Yemen Argo
For a long time, I have been pondering over something that turned into a more pronounced worry lately. A lady friend strongly insisted that I watch Salmon Fishing in the Yemen and despite my strong desire to decline, accepted.
Recently I was also able to watch Argo, the much talked about tale that is now part of history, also making Mr Affleck shine as a credible director for the first time since we have known him. Unfortunately as much as I hate to admit it, the two struck out to be very similar in many ways.
Salmon Fishing in the Yemen was probably a reason why 'Rom-Com' is really not a genre. If it were then there would be no place for stand alone drama or comedy. It's the easiest way to make a hotch potch without owing any characters, plot, emotion or rationale anything at all.
The Yemen story was a long tale of despicable character Mr McGregor played flawlessly and in no way was there any urge to see him end up with Ms Blunt. Ms Blunt on the other hand, seemed to have no describable occupation, and it was very unclear what she was really doing in Yemen for the entirety of the film, not to forget her quick encouragement to Mr McGregor to desert his wife.
What was worse was the cartoonish and very unfunny character of a publicist played by Kristin Scott Thomas, in a very 'British' way - and of course why would we not show her like that.
What really stood out was how the British apparently date sticking to their class system - Mr McGregor was not upper class so there were bound to be complications.
Let's now jump to Argo. A highly entertaining (and now Oscar winning) film, tense throughout for a two hour run and smartly cut. If you had watched the trailer like me, you may or may not have been disappointed, though. I was misled to believe that the film was going to be all about building a set of Mars in Iran. It didn't happen. It was just people trying to get out in a van, then on a plane.
Despite the misleading trailer, some reading was given to the background of the film. It wasn't just the Canadian embassy, in fact both NewZealand and the United Kingdom had played hosts to the group of six that had been on the run. Of course, for the tension, the entire market location scouting scene was made up. And so was the bit in the van with the people outside. And not to forget the majority of the time where Iranians simply looked like monstrous hooligans.
Affleck recently apologised for the artistic licence the film took, but that it was important for keeping the tension high in the film. Could the tension not have been created without meddling with the facts? Who knows. But many productions from Hollywood have done this time and again.
You probably didn't know anything about this story until you watched Argo. Now you've watched it and you think it was brilliant. But your version of history will be very different from the real one and that's what films do. People remember films and in making them, there is a great deal of responsibility on the filmmaker. The difference is what your allegiance is to.
For our two examples above, looks like they did it again for crowd pleasing. And we wonder how many in the USA believe that we date without looking at people's class here in Britain.