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But Affleck and his screenwriter, Chris Terrio, who won the adapted screenplay Oscar, did catch some flak from critics for taking major liberties, especially a heart-stopping _ but fictional _ airport finale that had gun-wielding Iranian Revolutionary Guards chasing the Swissair plane down the tarmac, with the plane lifting off just in the nick of time. (In reality, the airport exit went smoothly.)

And after the film was made, Affleck took the step of changing the film’s postscript, the Toronto Star reported, to more generously credit Canada and its ambassador at the time, Ken Taylor, who protected the Americans at huge personal risk and was uncomfortable with some details in the film.

“Argo” was not the only Oscar-nominated film this year to be criticized for factual issues.

Kathryn Bigelow’s “Zero Dark Thirty” came under fire for its depictions of interrogations. A group of senators charged that the film misled viewers for suggesting that torture provided information that helped the CIA find Osama bin Laden.

Even Steven Spielberg’s “Lincoln,” with its rich attention to historically accurate detail, was criticized for its inaccurate depiction of the Connecticut delegation’s vote on the 13th amendment outlawing slavery. The film’s Pulitzer-winning screenwriter, Tony Kushner, said he’d changed the details for dramatic effect.

Matthewman, the sociology professor, said the line in Argo may have provoked New Zealanders because the country prides itself on being generous and hospitable. People have a reputation for doing things like picking up hitchhikers and inviting them into their homes for a week, he said.

Small countries like New Zealand that are far from the world’s centers of power are often shaped by bigger countries like the U.S. and often look to them for affirmation, Matthewman said. It’s interesting to note the different reaction Affleck got in Britain, Matthewman said, which was arguably equally maligned in the movie.

“They give the guy a BAFTA in Britain and bash him in New Zealand,” he said, referring to the best director prize Affleck won at the British Academy Film Awards.

Some in Britain, however, have criticized “Argo’s” reference to that country, and some in Canada are upset the CIA gets credit at the expense of the Canadians, a claim backed by former U.S. President Jimmy Carter. And Iran is planning to sue Hollywood for the movie’s alleged “unrealistic portrayal” of that country, according to Iranian media reports.

Yet while Iran and Canada are central parts of the movie, the New Zealand reference could easily be missed _ at least by outsiders.

Patrick Gower, the political editor for TV3, one of two main television news stations in New Zealand, wrote in a blog that Affleck should apologize after he “deliberately slammed” the country.

“Some people will say I’m being oversensitive here,” he wrote. “But in my opinion, what Affleck has done just isn’t right.”

The controversy was not reflected in box-office receipts. “Argo” has done well in New Zealand, earning just over $1 million. As of this week, the film has earned $92.3 million internationally and $135 million in North America.

National carrier Air New Zealand has even extended an olive branch to Affleck by offering to fly him to the country as its guest. Airline spokeswoman Marie Hosking said this week it has yet to hear back from him.

Prime Minister John Key, meanwhile, has tried to sound a note of reason.

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