In 1979, soon after Ayatollah Khomeini took power in Iran and the ousted Shah found shelter in the United States—to the great frustration of Iran’s new leaders—a group of revolutionaries attacked the U.S. Embassy in Tehran and took 52 Americans hostage. They were held captive there for 444 days. President Jimmy Carter announced that he wanted to resolve the situation through diplomatic channels, but later on he planned a secret military rescue mission.
In this film that is paced as a thriller, acclaimed director Barbara Kopple uses many interviews—with hostages, members of the military who took part in the rescue mission, representatives of the media, and even former President Jimmy Carter and Vice President Walter Mondale—to meticulously reconstruct this defining period in history when U.S.-Iranian relations were on the brink of disaster.
Illustrated with animations and lots of archive footage, the story focuses on the woefully unsuccessful rescue mission and the political wrangling in the background, culminating in Carter’s landslide loss to Ronald Reagan in 1980.