Filmmaker Stephen Gaghan (Syriana)

Oscar Winner calls Mossadegh “A really great man”

Arash Norouzi

The Mossadegh Project | June 8, 2006                     

Writer / Director Stephen Gaghan Filmmaker Stephen Gaghan is the Academy Award winning screenwriter of Traffic (2000), Rules of Engagement (2000) and writer/director of the oil thriller Syriana (2005) starring George Clooney and Matt Damon.

The film is a loose adaption of the memoirs of CIA agent Robert Baer, who closely cooperated with the production. Prime Minister Mossadegh is also referenced in Syriana and his saga partially inspired the film’s plot.

Set off by the mere mention of Winston Churchill’s name in a December 2005 interview, Gaghan briefly relates the British-American overthrow of Mossadegh with disgust:

Syriana: Wise words
Hour — December 15, 2005

Syriana movie poster Q: Yeah, you researched this thing as hard and long as if it was going to be a book, or one of those big magazine features in the New Yorker... how did that go? Did you get treated like a “real” journalist, going to White House debriefings and all that?

Gaghan: Unfortunately. I even went to the White House Correspondents’ dinner. God. It was awful. Nobody was embedded in Afghanistan like they are in the White House. It’s disgusting. Pigs feeding at the trough; there isn’t even a trough, they drop clusters of grapes into each other’s piggy mouths, doing little piggy dances all the while. Like Bob Woodward — what the fuck happened to him? Here’s the man who pretty much invented modern investigative journalism, and here is his abdication — what the fuck is that? Is it like, ‘I make seven figures now, so it has to be [adopts a pithy tone] whosoever is not a progressive at 20 has no heart, but whosoever is not a conservative at 40 has no brain’?

Q: Winston Churchill said that, didn’t he?

Gaghan: Winston Churchill!!! He also overthrew a really great man, Mohammed Mossadegh, who was saying that his people were getting raped on what belonged to them, and Churchill came to us and said, ‘This man is gonna nationalize British oil,’ and oooooh, ‘Mossadegh is a communist.’ So we overthrew a man who had just won the country’s first democratic election, and restored their Shah, who was a weak-chinned little playboy. We interrupted his extended skiing holiday and flew him back, and installed him as a puppet dictator. The building where they are holding hostages this week? It’s the exact same building where Eisenhower overthrew Iran’s democratic election. Accidental symbolism? I think not.

Syriana trailer


Related links:

Dead Kennedys Frontman Jello Biafra on Iran, Iraq, Mossadegh

Actor/Director Ben Affleck (Argo) on Iran and the Middle East

The Good Shepherd — Robert De Niro's CIA Movie Starring Matt Damon, Angelina Jolie

MOSSADEGH t-shirts — “If I sit silently, I have sinned”

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