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  • I bought the video for less than five bucks at a liquidators store. I wanted the video for one of my favorite actors, Rolf Saxon. HE has a minor part and only two scenes. But in between them, the film is filled with solid performances by Kathy Bates, Natasha Richardson, Ciaran Hinds, Colin Firth, and Harry Dean Stanton. It can also be recommended for educational purposes to discuss the years when Iran and the U.S. were enemies. Besides the red tape, we learn the horror and the reasons for it. It can be a very deep movie. You almost feel sympathy for their captors too. We know that they were not all evil entirely. THey had their reasons too. While the treatment was cruel and harsh, the hostage crisis was forced to pay the world's attention to the other Israeli-held hostages!
  • This is yet another hard-to-find film that is very much worth a re-issue. Right now, copies can be purchased on VHS, but not on DVD. A pity, really, since this deserves a new audience for at least two of its stars who have subsequently gone on to Academy Award winning performances, in addition to multiple awards for other roles, long after "Hostages" was made. While Kathy Bates plays to type in very much a secondary role, Colin Firth is a revelation. So much of his early work is far beyond any of the romantic leads he has played post "Pride and Prejudice", though he has managed the challenging and/or quirky part here and there to keep him from being completely typecast.

    This film works on many levels and, though it was controversial at the time because of its fact/fiction telling of the story, it really stands up as a dramatic and powerful work on its own, largely because of its stellar cast and its searing tale of ordinary men, caught up in a world-gone-crazy, circa 1980's Lebanon and Middle East turmoil.

    There is a revelatory book-ended moment at the beginning and end of this film, where the character of John McCarthy, played by Firth, is chained naked in a cell and completely freaks out over the roaches crawling all over. Towards the end of the film, he offhandedly flicks a roach off his bare chest, in a gesture of accepting boredom. This pretty much sums up the journey these hostages make in their 5+ years' life as captives in a hellish world that they must, eventually, accept, or wither away.

    The horrible indignities and hideous living conditions these men are forced to endure contrast glaringly with the mundane, bureaucratic world their relatives and loved ones move through in their efforts to save them, year after painful year.

    The story that is ultimately told, against all the real world politics, violence, and terrorism, is that what saves these men in their filthy hell-hole living conditions, is their grasp on what makes them sane. And the fact that they could bond with each other and share the horrors of what befell them every day. One of their greatest fears eventually became simply being alone.

    Ciaran Hinds as Irishman Brian Keenan relies on his anger and rage and, eventually the close bond formed with Firth's John McCarthy to get him through the endless days and years. Hinds is a powerhouse in this role and the chemistry with Firth is a very important aspect of what makes this movie work.

    Colin Firth plays the fresh-faced young reporter, who eventually becomes a man, as one who learned to find humor and levity in the worst of circumstances. Bruised. Beaten. He manages to rise above and even take things cheerfully upon occasion. I am not sure of a better moment in his long, superb career, though, that matches the look on his face when he sees his fiancée, played by Natasha Richardson, talking about him on a TV the captors allow them to use briefly in their cell. Every emotion in the book is reflected in his face and it is heart-rending.

    The other hostages are more famous in the US -- Terry Anderson , Terry Waite, and Frank Reed -- played by Jay O. Sanders (in a touching performance), Conrad Asquith, and Harry Dean Stanton (fantastic in his performance as well). All find ways to bond with each other, and cling to what makes them sane individually. Realistically, some of their attributes are portrayed as irritating or dull, but all understandable in their situation.

    There are amazing, and harrowing moments to be had in this production. Besides the beatings and indignities, the young guards use a particularly ingenious and horrible method of moving their prisoners, wrapped head to toe in packing tape. This nearly killed the hostages as often their breathing was obstructed in their coffin-like compartments. How they survived this is a head-scratcher, but they did.

    I can't praise this HBO production highly enough. If one is a fan of any of the actors involved, it is a must-see/must-have movie.

    Again, having it released onto DVD would be terrific, but I doubt this will ever happen.
  • I was not familiar with any of the male actors in this movie when I happened upon it on cable. I fell in love with both Colin Firth and Ciaran Hinds who are both excellent in this. It's a difficult story but an important one historically, telling the tale of the Iran hostages and the political situation surrounding their capture and eventual release. The movie does not condemn the kidnappers, but instead illustrates what the powerless do to become the powerful. It's tragic, but true.

    Kathy Bates has a small role, but was the biggest star in the film -- then!

    I next saw Colin in Valmont and Ciaran Hinds in Circle of Friends. Colin ran off to have a baby with Meg Tilly but, thankfully, returned to acting soon. Such a wonderful talent! See all of these films if you can. Also, see Colin in The Advocate. What a great film. It's grand that Colin is finally getting the attention he deserves.
  • suessis22 November 2003
    I was totally riveted to this film from start to finish. In order for the film to work the performances have to be excellent and they are. Even the actors playing minor characters are compelling. Particularly great are Jay O. Sanders and Ciaran Hinds. Also Kathy Bates, Colin Firth, and Harry Dean Stanton turn in winning performances.

    While the film may be to a certain extent fictionalized, it does give a very powerful portrayal of the experiences of the hostages, and what they were put through. One particular sequence that is chilling is the recreation of the videos featuring Terry Anderson that were sent to the International News Media.

    The film also makes you more aware of how international politics works and how scary our own and other government bureaucracies can be.
  • "Hostages", a docudrama about five Western civilians (including Terry Anderson, the longest held captive at seven years) taken hostage in Lebanon in the 1980's, does not wallow in pity, angst, and woe and resists the temptation to become an action flick or take sides against Islamic militants. Rather, the film does a good job of telling the story of men bound together in captivity by the need for human interaction while their families fight futile battles with government officials at home. Good for a made-for-tv flick, "Hostages" includes real file footage which speaks volumes and offers good commentary on the plight of hostages, their needs and those of their families. Should be of special interest to those who followed the news story in real time.
  • cjtoys28 July 2003
    This film helped me understand what went on during this crisis. I recommend it to anyone wanting to gain insight into the event as well as reading the books that have been written about this ordeal. I thought the actors portrayed the actual hostages with a strong desire to get it right. Excellent job by Colin Firth and company!