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Oscars: Argo Writer Defends Film's Plot
The screenwriter behind Oscar favourite Argo has defended taking "dramatic licence" with the true story amid controversy over whether it has been over-dramatised.
Chris Terrio told Sky News the movie stayed true to the "spirit of the story" even if some of the most dramatic moments on the big screen never actually took place.
Argo, the remarkable story of how six Americans were rescued from Tehran in 1979 under the guise of making a movie, is in the running for seven Oscars on Sunday night.
Even some of the real life "house guests" who were spirited out of revolutionary Iran in the operation say it was very different to the movie version.
Mark and Cora Lijek were in their early 20's and settling into their first diplomatic posting when the US Embassy in Tehran was stormed.
They and four others managed to escape but spent months holed up in ambassadors' residences before the rescue.
Now living in Seattle, they met director Ben Affleck and the cast during the movie's production.
Ms Lijek told Sky News: "A lot of the things that could have happened were internal anxieties and internal frights that would be very difficult to portray in a movie.
"Since they couldn't do that, they created these exciting moments instead of what-could-have-beens.
"As a film in itself I think it is a lot of fun."
The Lijeks said the tense visit to a bazaar and the dramatic final chase scene in the movie were both pure fiction.
Their departure was actually quite relaxed and much of their stay felt like a vacation, they said.
Mr Lijek, who wrote a book about their escape shortly after returning to the US in 1980, said he was very glad the movie was made.
"It is good to get that piece of history back out, especially at this time when our relations with Iran are very important," he said.
"Even though this movie is not 100% factual I hope it prompts people to think about things a little bit."
Screenwriter Terrio said: "Much more of it is true to life than you think. There are parts of it that are compressed and the adrenaline levels are turned up.
"For example when the president sent the telegram okaying the operation but in real life that happened 48 hours earlier. It didn't happen at the very crucial moment.
"It is moments like this where you take dramatic licences and try to find the spirit of the story but not literally true to it."
The Lijeks said they do wish the movie had done more to credit the Canadian, British and New Zealand embassy teams who helped them in Tehran rather than giving too much glory to the CIA.
Apart from photographs of their homecoming, the only souvenir of their escape is an advertisement for the fake movie, for which all six posed as members of the film crew.
Affleck has been lauded by awards judges in the last few weeks - even though he was not nominated for the best director Oscar - and the film is regarded as favourite for best picture.
The Lijeks said they will be out at a speaking engagement when the Oscars are taking place, but they will record it to watch later.