Desert One


The Iranian hostage crisis of 1979–1981 marked a significant turning point in American history, with political, diplomatic, and military ramifications that continue to this day. Following their siege of the American embassy in Tehran in November 1979, Iranian college students took 52 Americans hostage. As diplomatic efforts to resolve the crisis failed, weeks stretched into months, and President Jimmy Carter authorized a plan for a military rescue. In April 1980 eight helicopters took off from the USS Nimitz aircraft carrier to rendezvous and refuel at a site designated Desert One. What happened there is widely considered to have determined the outcome of the 1980 presidential election.

Using recent interviews with many of the key participants, including President Carter, Vice President Walter Mondale, members of the rescue team, and Iranian hostage takers, director Barbara Kopple has created a richly detailed and suspenseful account of this crucial event. Rare archival recordings of conversations between Carter and his military advisers provide immediacy and demonstrate the human toll on all concerned.  AT


Barbara Kopple


Barbara Kopple, David Cassidy, Eric Forman


Francisco Bello, Fabian Caballero


Asad Faruqi, Gary Griffin, Gelareh Kiazand, Thomas Kaufman

Release Year


Festival Year



United States

Run Time

108 minutes


Partially subtitled