Saturday, August 22, 2020


Ralph Fiennes

     This documentary illustrates the intensive amount of work and doggedness it takes to pursue the truth many years later after life-altering events in a country’s history.  It starts with Iran as a colony of the United Kingdom following the discovery of lodes of oil in the Persian soil, and Britain beginning to realize that it could benefit by getting a controlling interest in the company mining the oil.  
     Eventually, Mohammad Mossaddegh, a socialist, was prime minister of Iran, and his people were especially pleased with his integrity and fairness.  But when Iran began to realize that the British company was not treating it fairly (treating native Iranians like servants and giving only a small percentage of the profits to Iran, even siphoning off additional funds), Mossaddegh drove out the British and nationalized the company.
     What follows are years of intrigue, with failed and successful coups principally led by the UK and the US under different administrations, to gain control of a country and its oil.  It is an example of the role powerful countries can have in the leadership of other countries, primarily to pursue capitalist interests.  It points out that even if appeals to international courts like The Hague ruled in Iran’s favor,  the rulings could be circumvented.
     Documentarian and Iranian Taghi Amirani and his writer/editor Walter Murch, weave the story like a detective novel, hunting down and poring over hundreds of previously classified documents, interviews, and videos to chart the sequence of events and the actors involved in staging an international coup.   Ralph Fiennes provides footage of the British leader of the coup, because either by ill intent or misplacement, the videos of his interviews by a British filmmaker have disappeared.  Fiennes could read from a transcript, which Amirani had tracked down.

A thoroughly researched, detailed account of Iran’s history in the 1950’s. It speaks to current affairs that are likely transpiring in a similar fashion today.

Grade:  A                                    By Donna R. Copeland

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