Syriana


2h 6m 2005

Brief Synopsis

From the players brokering back-room deals in Washington to the men toiling in the oil fields of the Persian Gulf, a political thriller with multiple storylines that weave together showing the human consequences of the fierce pursuit of wealth and power. As a career CIA operative begins to uncover t

Film Details

MPAA Rating
Release Date
Nov 23, 2005
Premiere Information
New York premiere: 20 Nov 2005
Production Company
4M Film; Participant Productions; Section Eight; Warner Bros. Pictures, Inc.
Distribution Company
Warner Bros. Pictures, Inc.
Country
United States
Location
Baltimore, Maryland, USA; Washington, DC, USA; Texas, USA; North Africa; Morocco; Middle East; Geneva, Switzerland; Europe; Annapolis, Maryland, United States; Baltimore, Maryland, United States; Casblanca,Morocco; Dubai,United Arab Emirates; Geneva,Switzerland; Geneva--Cimetiere des Rois,Switzerland; Geneva--Cimetière des Rois,Switzerland; Hondo---777 Ranch, Texas, United States; Washington, District of Columbia, United States
Screenplay Information
Based on the book See No Evil: The True Story of a Ground Soldier in the CIA's War on Terrorism by Robert Baer (New York, 2002).

Technical Specs

Duration
2h 6m

Synopsis

In Tehran, Iran, CIA agent Bob Barnes, on a covert mission to assassinate two Iranian arms dealers, lures them into a trap by offering to sell them two Stinger missiles. Unknown to Bob, the dealers already have sold one of the missiles to militant fundamentalist Mohammed Sheik Agiza. At a deserted café, as Bob exhibits his wares to the dealers, the gun-wielding Agiza suddenly appears to claim the missile, and when Bob objects, Agiza takes the weapon by force. Meanwhile, in Georgetown, D.C., Dean Whiting, the head of a prestigious law firm hired by giant Connex Oil to ensure that the corporation's proposed merger with Killen Oil will be approved by the Justice Department, charges Bennett Holiday, an ambitious black attorney who works at the firm, with the responsibility of investigating how Killen, a small Texas oil company headed by Jimmy Pope, won the drilling rights to the lucrative fields in Kazakhstan. The approval of the merger is critical to Connex, which lost its long-held rights to drill in an oil-rich Persian emirate when the country's foreign minister, Prince Nasir Al-Subaai, the son and heir of Emir Hamed Al-Subaai, awarded the rights to the higher bid of the People's Republic of China. As a result of the company's loss of its drilling rights in the Persian Gulf, Connex lays off the legion of Pakistani immigrants who have left their country to work in the oil fields. Among those affected are Wasim Ahmed Khan and his father Saleem, who despite the bleakness of his prospects, still dreams of bringing his wife from Pakistan to live with them. Upon returning to CIA headquarters in Langley, Virginia, Bob rankles his superiors by sending memos regarding the urgency of finding the missing missile, a loss that, if publicized, could cause untold problems for the agency. To silence Bob, the agency decides to promote him to a desk job as head of the Iran Bureau, but Bob sabotages his job interview by criticizing the reform movement in Iran and its relationship with the Committee to Liberate Iran, the CLI, a group of powerful U.S. businessmen bent on overthrowing the fundamentalist government of Iran to gain control of the country's oil fields. Because the CIA is also concerned about U.S. interests in the region, Bob's superior at the CIA sends Bob to assassinate Nasir, lying that Nasir has been funding the purchase of weapons to be used against the U.S. Before leaving, Bob meets with his college-age son Robby, who resents the rootless life his government agent parents have foisted upon him as a result of their work with the CIA. At the Emir's estate in Marbella, Spain, Bryan Woodman, an analyst at an energy trading company in Geneva, arrives with his wife Julie and young sons Max and Riley. The Emir has invited Bryan to delineate his company's proposition for maximizing the resources of the oil field. Disappointed when he discovers he will not be meeting with the Emir, but rather his emissaries, Bryan puts forth stale ideas that the emissaries have heard many times before. As night falls, the lights in the estate's pool switch on, triggering an undetected short in the wiring. Soon after, Bryan's son Max jumps into the water and is electrocuted. Max's death wrenches apart the Woodman family, and Bryan finds himself estranged from his wife and other son and unable to function in his job. In the emirate, Wasim and his father are unable to find jobs and consequently are forced to report to immigration, where they are pushed and clubbed into submission by members of the military, who despise the Pakistani outsiders. In Washington, Bennett learns from Donald Farish III, his former law professor who is now an assistant attorney general, that the Justice Department has proof that Killen paid off someone for the rights to the Kazakhstan oil fields. Bennett, who knows his future with the firm depends on his uncovering any Killen improprieties, is being pressured by Whiting to find the person who served as the conduit for the bribe. Later, Whiting, determined to overturn the Chinese oil deal, visits the Emir's younger son, Prince Meshal Al-Subaai. Meshal, who values his yachts and horses more than the welfare of his people, welcomes Whiting's offer to assure his ascendancy to the throne in exchange for restoring Connex's drilling rights. Meanwhile, Wasim, his face bruised from the beating, finds solace in the words of a cleric who teaches at the madrassa, or fundamentalist Islamic school. With his friend Farooq, Wasim listens as the cleric preaches that the Koran provides an antidote to the failures of Western liberal society. Later, Agiza approaches Wasim and Farooq at the school and recruits them to be suicide bombers. Feeling guilty for Max's death, Prince Nasir, a compassionate ruler bent on reforming his country's moribund oil economy, invites Bryan to Mecca to offer his firm the rights to develop a parcel of the oil field. Alienated and disillusioned, Bryan denounces the deal as stupid and accuses the emirate of squandering its wealth. When Nasir acknowledges Bryan's criticism and asks his opinion, Bryan proposes that the country could save middle-man costs by building pipelines rather than transporting its oil on tankers. Impressed, Nasir later appoints Bryan to be his economic advisor. In Beirut, Bob contacts his field agent, Mussawi, to arrange for Nasir's assassination. Bryan and Nasir also have come to Beirut on business, and their paths cross Bob's when they share a hotel elevator with him. After going to his room, Bob watches as Mussawi's men arrive to kidnap Nasir. Instead of going to Nasir's room, however, the men burst into Bob's room, bind him with duct tape and shove him into a body bag, which they toss into their car trunk. Later, Bob is tethered to a chair in a grimy room, where Mussawi, who, unknown to Bob, has betrayed the CIA and now works for Iran, threatens to torture Bob unless he reveals the names of the people he has bribed over the course of his career. When Bob refuses, Mussawi pulls out his fingernails and is about to behead him when a representative from Said Hossein Hashimi, the head of Hezbollah who has guaranteed Bob's safety in Beirut, suddenly appears and orders Bob freed. Bob revives from his ordeal and finds himself in the now-deserted room, while at the madrassa, Agiza shows Farooq and Wasim the stolen Stinger missile and demonstrates how to arm it. When Mussawi circulates the story that the CIA sent Bob to assassinate Nasir, the CIA decides to portray Bob as a rogue agent in order to debunk Mussawi's accusation. After poring through mountains of files concerning Killen's business deals, Bennett finally comes upon a wire transfer to an elite school in Switzerland attended by the children of a Kazakhstan official. Because the transfer was signed by Danny Dalton, a Texas oilman working with Danny Pope, and a member of the CLI, Bennett realizes that the document could appease the Justice Department by proving an illegal money link between Killen and Kazakhstan. Bennett then goes to inform his superior, Sydney Hewitt, Connex's Washington counsel, who is attending a meeting of the CLI. Although they are relieved that in Dalton, they have found a scapegoat to end the Justice Department's investigation into the merger, Connex president Tommy Barton and the other oil executives firmly believe that business feeds on corruption. In the Gulf, Nasir and Bryan's dream of reform is derailed when Meshal and Whiting convince the Al-Subaai cousins to sue the Emir, demanding that he appoint Meshal as the new ruler, because Meshal will invalidate the Chinese contract and reinstate the oil rights to Connex. Bennett's success at the law firm is also jeopardized when Farish informs him that the Justice Department will not approve the merger until they can indict a major executive at Connex or Killen, thus providing an illusion of due diligence on their part. Increasingly disillusioned by the cynicism of government and business, Bennett begins to understand why his father, whom he holds in contempt, has given up on the system and turned into a hopeless alcoholic. Upon returning to the United States, Bob is stonewalled by his superiors and denied access to CIA files and has his passport seized as he discovers that his loyalty is being questioned. Feeling betrayed, Bob visits Stan Goff, a former colleague at the CIA who became disillusioned with the agency and left to become an independent consultant. Stan, who has been looking into Bob's betrayal by the CIA, explains that the CIA wants to eliminate Nasir because they are worried that he will not allow U.S. military bases in his country. Stan also reveals that the CIA has teamed with Whiting to ensure that Meshal, rather than Nasir, will be the new Emir. Outraged by his government's collusion with big business to impact the political course of a country, Bob confronts Whiting, who coolly informs him that he has been used and lied to during his entire career at the agency. As Bob flies back to the emirate to warn Nasir, Nasir and Bryan meet with the emirate's generals to convince them to support Nasir over Meshal. When the generals throw their support behind Nasir, a motorcade containing Nasir and his supporters drives to the palace to stop Meshal's coronation. Bob, meanwhile, who has learned of the proceedings, tries to intercept Nasir along the highway before the CIA can assassinate him. In Texas, when Bennett informs Pope that the government approval of the merger depends on the indictment of a major oil official, Pope, aware that if the government investigation continues, they all could be indicted, decides to scapegoat Hewitt for making an illegal financial deal related to the merger. Meanwhile, after being informed by Agiza that the time has come for his suicide mission, Wasim goes to say goodbye to his father, who is unaware he will never see his son again. At the Connex-Killen loading facility in the Gulf, Connex executives celebrate the return of their company to the region. At the same time, CIA officials are monitoring Nasir's motorcade on their spy satellite, and when they see the Bob's vehicle speeding to intercept Nasir, they program a remote-controlled missile to home in on Nasir's car. Just as Bob manages to stop the motorcade and reach Nasir's car, the missile is triggered, rendering Nasir's car into a pile of rubble and killing Nasir, his wife, his children and Bob. Bryan, who was being driven in a separate car, watches the conflagration in horror. At that moment, Bennett, Pope and Whiting are attending a tribute to Leland Janus, the CEO of Connex, who thanks Meshal, the new Emir, and acknowledges him as one of "Connex's strategic friends." In the Gulf, Wasim and Farooq arm their missile and aim their fishing boat directly at a Connex oil tanker. Afterward, the students at the Islamic school watch the video Wasim made before committing suicide, in which he declares "the next world is the true life." As Bryan returns home to his wife and son, Bob's files at his CIA office are being readied for storage. Upon returning home, Bennett finds his father waiting on the doorstep, and for the first time in his life, shows compassion for the old man.

Cast

Kayvan Novak

Arash

George Clooney

Bob Barnes

Amr Waked

Mohammed Sheik Agiza

Christopher Plummer

Dean Whiting

Jeffrey Wright

Bennett Holiday

Chris Cooper

Jimmy Pope

Robert Foxworth

Tommy Barton

Nicky Henson

Sydney Hewitt

Nicholas Art

Riley Woodman

Matt Damon

Bryan Woodman

Amanda Peet

Julie Woodman

Steven Hinkle

Max Woodman

Daisy Tormé

Rebecca

Peter Gerety

Leland Janus

Richard Lintern

Bryan's boss

Jocelyn Quivrin

Vincent

Mazhar Munir

Wasim [Ahmed] Khan

Shahid Ahmed

Saleem Ahmed Khan

Bikram Singh Bhamra

Pakistani translator

Roger Yuan

Chinese engineer

Jayne Atkinson

Division chief

Tom Mccarthy

Fred Franks

Jamey Sheridan

Terry

Randall Boffman

Distinguished gentleman #1

Tony French

Distinguished gentleman #2

Max Minghella

Robby Barnes

Katie Foster

Nervous daughter

Nadim Sawalha

Emir Hamed Al-Subaai

Alexander Siddig

Prince Nasir Al-Subaai

Ozzie Yue

Chinese oil executive

Akbar Kurtha

Prince Meshal Al-Subaai

Sonell Dadral

Farooq

Jon Lee Anderson

Himself

Othman Bini Hendi

Arab businessman

Bashir H. Atiyat

Nasir's aide

Ali Al Amine

Older kid at pool

William C. Mitchell

Bennett Holiday Sr.

Tim Blake Nelson

Danny Dalton

Ahmed Aa Mohammed

Abu Khalifa

Ahmed Ayoub

Pakistani teenager #1

Mohammed Asad Khan

Pakistani teenager #2

Atta Mohammed Saleh

Old man

Aziz Zacca

Policeman

David Clennon

Donald Farish III

Omar Mostafa

The cleric

Said Amadis

Reza Reyhani

David J. Manners

Egypt bureau chief

Jamil Jabbar

Supplicant

Badria Timimi

Nasir's wife

William Hurt

Stan [Goff]

Mohammed Majd

Said Hossein Hashimi

Mark Strong

Mussawi

Driss Roukhe

Guard

Katherine Hoskins Mackey

Paralegal

Linda E. Williams

Paralegal

Susan Allenbach

Paralegal #1

William L. Thomas

Paralegal #2

El Mahjoub Raji

Hashimi's man

Michael Stone Forrest

CIA security officer #1

Bob Baer

CIA security officer #2

Fritz Michel

Hotel security guard

Bob Fajkowski

Secretary of defense

Jeff Baker

Tommy's lawyer

Tarik Tamzali

Nasir's secretary

Mitesh Soni

Martyr

Tootsie Duvall

Assistant at CIA

Nabeel Noman

Bedouin leader

Ryan Murphy

Drone tech

Will Mccormack

Willy

Donna Mitchell

Pat Janus

James Plannette

Connex functionary

Michael Allinson

Sir David

Crew

Adil Abdelwahab

Assistant loc Manager, Morocco unit

Mohammed Abdulkader

Loc Assistant, Dubai unit

Kirby Adams

Key loc accountant

Samia Adnan

Dial coach

Nasser Ahmed

Liaison officer, Dubai unit

Alfred Ainsworth Jr.

Video assist, USA

Karim Akallach

Costume, Morocco unit

Abdul Al Azez Mohamad

Loc Assistant, Dubai unit

Talal Al Mobaid

Loc Assistant, Dubai unit

Mohamad Al Nassani

Assistant loc Manager, Dubai unit

Alia Al Shibli

Casting Coordinator, Dubai unit

Hassan Al Sweidi

Cultural consultant

Zak Alaoui

Prod Supervisor, Morocco unit

Nashwa Alruwani

Casting, Egypt

Kate Amer

Key prod Coordinator, USA

Khalid Ameskane

Transport Assistant, Morroco unit

Colin Anderson

Camera op/Steadicam op

Saundra Marie Ardito

Assistant prod accountant, Baltimore & Washington, D.C. unit

Dylan Ashbrook

Assistant to Jennifer Fox

Hank Atterbury

Special Effects Coordinator, USA

Saddam Badreddine

Assistant loc Manager, Dubai unit

Clint Bailey

Boat Supervisor, Morocco unit

Darren Bailey

Marine Supervisor, Morocco unit

Joel Bailey

Boat Supervisor, Morocco unit

Ali Bakkioui

Transportation capt, Morocco unit

Sidney R. Baldwin

Stills

Candice Banks

Key makeup artist, Overseas

Jane Bard

Craft service, Baltimore & Washington, D.C. unit

Ray Barrett

Const Coordinator, Morocco unit

Michael Bauman

Chief lighting tech, USA

Jody Beaudin

Loc accountant, Geneva unit

Rich Beierlein

Staff Assistant, office, Baltimore & Washington, D.C. unit

Kawtar Bellfquih

Action vehicle Secretary, Morocco unit

Tarik Ait Ben Ali

3rd Assistant Director, Overseas

Mohammed Benhamane

Loc scout, Morocco unit

Ahmed Benjlil

Action vehicle finder, Morocco unit

Peter Bennett

1st Assistant Director, 2d aerial unit

Michael Knox Beran

Tech consultant

Matthew Donald Berninger

Composer

Debra Berriman

Prod Coordinator, Dubai unit

David Betancourt

Foley mixer

Chrissie Beveridge

Makeup Special Effects

Chrissie Beveridge

Makeup Department head

Urdu-bikram Singh Bhamra

Dial coach

Deborah Binkley

Set Costume

Larry Blake

Supervisor Sound ed/Re-rec mixer

Olivia Bloch-laine

Set dec, Overseas

Michael Bonnaud

Assistant chief lighting tech, USA

Johnetta Boone

Key Costume, Baltimore & Washington, D.C. unit

Lorraine Boushell

Makeup artist, Baltimore & Washington, D.C. unit

Sarah Bradshaw

Unit Production Manager

Sarah Bradshaw

Associate Producer

Julian M. Brain

2d 2d Assistant Director, USA

Darwin Brooks

3rd Assistant Director, Overseas

Shannon Burke

Consultant

Bruce Cain

Stunts

Kami Calevro

Assistant prod accountant, Baltimore & Washington, D.C. unit

Greg Campbell

Action vehicles Coordinator, Morocco unit

Kristy Carlson

Casting Assistant

Douglas Carter

Staff Assistant, set, Baltimore & Washington, D.C. unit

Kate Carver

3rd Assistant Director, 2d aerial unit

John C. Casey

Costume Supervisor

Carl Catanese

Buyer, Baltimore & Washington, D.C. unit

Gerard Cavat

Transportation capt, Geneva unit

Ayesha Chagla

Staff Assistant, office, Dubai unit

Omar Chraibi

Unit Manager, Morocco unit

S. Todd Christensen

Key loc Manager, Baltimore & Washington, D.C. unit

Roy Clarke

Transportation capt, Overseas

John Cloke

Standby painter, Morocco unit

George Clooney

Executive Producer

Rick Cochin

Transportation capt, USA

Philippe Coeytaux

Loc Manager, Geneva unit

Marcello Colaciello

Genny op, Morocco unit

Amanda Confavreux

Prod Manager, Dubai unit

June Connon

On set dresser, Overseas

Brian Cooper

Assistant prod office Coordinator, Baltimore & Washington, D.C. unit

Carmine Coppola

Composer

Ben Cosgrove

Executive Producer

Clint Covey

Best boy grip, Dubai unit

Ian Creed

Marine Coordinator, Overseas

Simon Crook

Unit loc Manager, Dubai unit

Clare Cunningham

Assistant prod accountant, Overseas

Mary Cybulski

Script Supervisor

Alexandra D'ursel

Props buyer, Dubai unit

Cristiano D'urso

Assistant prod accountant, Overseas

Adam Dale

Aerial Director of Photographer, 2d aerial unit

Tom Dames

Assistant prod accountant, Baltimore & Washington, D.C. unit

Alain Darthou

Const Coordinator, Dubai unit

Mike Davis

Const Coordinator, Baltimore & Washington, D.C. unit

Louise De Cordoba

Financial controller

Will Dearborn

"A" Camera 2d Assistant, USA

Anthony Defrancesco

Art Department Assistant, Batimore & Washington, D.C. unit

Louise Del Araujo

Leadperson, USA

Claudio Del Gobbo

Dolly grip, Overseas

Frederic Delaloye

Assistant unit base Manager, Geneva unit

Melissa Demino

Staff Assistant, office, Baltimore & Washington, D.C. unit

Steve Dent

Stunt Coordinator

Alexandre Desplat

Music

Massimiliano Dessena

Best boy grip, Overseas

Aaron Brooking Dessner

Composer

Kay Devanthey

Costume buyer, Geneva unit

Ilde Di Benedetto

Assistant art Director, Dubai unit

Pranali Diwadkar

Art Department Assistant, Dubai unit

Stephanie Dolker

Prod Coordinator, Geneva unit

Crispin Dominic

Assistant chief lighting tech, Dubai unit

Guy Drayton

Safety diver, Morocco unit

Kevin Dugard

Set medic, Baltimore & Washington, D.C. unit

Francois Duhamel

Stills

Eric Durst

Visual Effects Supervisor

Madeleine Ehrenborg

Assistant prod office Coordinator, Geneva unit

Khalid El Alami

Hair & makeup Assistant, Morocco unit

My Elmahdi El Atlass

Staff Assistant, Morocco unit

Chafika El Khannous

Costume, Morocco unit

Aicha El Mezaine

Hair & makeup Assistant, Morocco unit

Robert Elswit

Director of Photography

Caprice Ericson

Key loc Assistant, Baltimore & Washington, D.C. unit

Said Errifaai

Action vehicle/Marine Assistant, Morocco unit

Jana Evans

Art Department Coordinator, Overseas

Yann Mari Faget

2d Assistant Director, Morocco unit

Evelyn S. Farkas

Set medic, Baltimore & Washington, D.C. unit

Julie Feiner

Sound Editing

Kate Filby

"B" Camera 2d Assistant, 2d aerial unit

Dawn Fintor

Foley artist

Carl Fischer

Boom Operator

Tom Forbes

Prod Secretary, Overseas

Jennifer Fox

Producer

Louise Frogley

Costume Design

Daran Fulham

Art Director, Dubai unit

Stephen Gaghan

Writer

D'etta Galloway

Staff Assistant, office, Baltimore & Washington, D.C. unit

David Garrick

Stunts

Djivan Gaspariyan

Duduk

Virginia Geckler

Staff Assistant, set, Baltimore & Washington, D.C. unit

Kay Georgiou

Hair Department head

Francesca Gerlach

Standby painter, Baltimore & Washington, D.C. unit

Susanna Glattly

Charge scenic, Baltimore & Washington, D.C. unit

Simone Goodridge

Key prod Coordinator, Overseas

Richard Goodwin

2d 2d Assistant Director, Overseas

Jeff Pratt Gordon

On set dresser, USA

Gerry Gore

Transportation Coordinator, Overseas

Mick Gormaley

Assistant Sound Editor

Christopher Granier-deferre

Prod Manager, Geneva unit

Ben Greaves

2d boom op, Overseas

Raf Green

Assistant to Stephen Gaghan

Elizabeth Greenberg

Casting Assistant, New York

Faical Hajji

Staff Assistant, Morocco unit

Hakima Hammadi

Unit nurse, Morocco unit

Peter Hardcourt

Safety diver, Morocco unit

Kevin H. Harris

HOD carpenter, Morocco unit

Rob Harris

Unit Publicist

Ahmed Hatimi

1st Assistant Director, Morocco unit

Paul Hedges Sr.

Props master, Overseas

William P. "patio" Hendrick

Set dresser, Baltimore & Washington, D.C. unit

Charmaine Henninger

Hair stylist, USA

Joshua C. Hersko

Staff Assistant, set, Baltimore & Washington, D.C. unit

Maureen Hetherington

Makeup & hair artist, 2d aerial unit

Dan Hillsdon

Assistant prod accountant, Overseas

Gaspard Hirschi

Staff Assistant, office, Geneva unit

Petur Hliddal

Sound Mixer

Alan Hook

Art Director, USA

Will Humphris

Loader, Overseas

Eric Hunsaker

Set dresser, Baltimore & Washington, D.C. unit

Rami Hyasin

1st Assistant Director, Dubai unit

Sorin Iarovici

2d Assistant Editor

Barry Idoine

"A" Camera 1st Assistant

Houda Jabrane

Unit doctor, Morocco unit

Kevin Jenkins

Assistant unit Manager, Dubai unit

Gareth Jones

Security Coordinator

Daniel Villar Jorda

"B" Camera 2d Assistant, Overseas

Georgia Kacandes

Unit Production Manager

Georgia Kacandes

Producer

Avy Kaufmann

Casting

Graham Kelly

Action vehicles Supervisor, Overseas

Lora Kennedy

Casting

Michael Kenner

Key grip, USA

Martin Kenzie

Director, 2d aerial unit

Martin Kenzie

Director of Photographer, 2d aerial unit

Aymen Khalifa

Cultural consultant

Abazar Khayami

Post prod Assistant

Mary Kim

Prosthetics created by

Elizabeth Kirkscey

Screenplay Supervisor, 2d aerial unit

Elizabeth Kirkscey

Associate Producer

Dave Kirman

Video Assistant, Morocco unit

Arlene Kiyabu

Casting Assistant

Brian Kohl

Post prod Assistant

Barry R. Koper

Key makeup artist, USA

Khadija Koulla

Prod Coordinator, Morocco unit

Alex Krimm

Water safety/EMT, Baltimore & Washington, D.C. unit

Kevin Kropp

Assistant Props master, Baltimore & Washington, D.C. unit

Deden Krouchi

Prod buyer, Overseas

Jessica Kumai Scott

Post prod Assistant

Jeffrey Sherman Kunkel

Dolly grip, USA

Philip N. Labib

Casting Coordinator, Dubai unit

Pierre Lacourt

3rd Assistant Director, Geneva unit

Shannon Lail

Associate Producer

Ashifa Lalani

Loc accountant, Morocco unit

Vanessa Lapato

Sound Editing

Emily Lascelles

Prod Coordinator, Morocco/Dubai

John Latenser V

Loc Manager, Washington, D.C.

Matthew Lee

Prod Secretary, UK

Film Details

MPAA Rating
Release Date
Nov 23, 2005
Premiere Information
New York premiere: 20 Nov 2005
Production Company
4M Film; Participant Productions; Section Eight; Warner Bros. Pictures, Inc.
Distribution Company
Warner Bros. Pictures, Inc.
Country
United States
Location
Baltimore, Maryland, USA; Washington, DC, USA; Texas, USA; North Africa; Morocco; Middle East; Geneva, Switzerland; Europe; Annapolis, Maryland, United States; Baltimore, Maryland, United States; Casblanca,Morocco; Dubai,United Arab Emirates; Geneva,Switzerland; Geneva--Cimetiere des Rois,Switzerland; Geneva--Cimetière des Rois,Switzerland; Hondo---777 Ranch, Texas, United States; Washington, District of Columbia, United States
Screenplay Information
Based on the book See No Evil: The True Story of a Ground Soldier in the CIA's War on Terrorism by Robert Baer (New York, 2002).

Technical Specs

Duration
2h 6m

Award Wins

Best Supporting Actor

2005

Best Supporting Actor

2006
George Clooney

Award Nominations

Best Original Screenplay

2005

Quotes

Trivia

Notes

The film's opening onscreen credits are intercut with images of Pakistani immigrants milling around in a desert as they push their way onto a bus. Toward the end of the film, the screen goes white when "Wasim Ahmed Khan" and "Farooq" slam into the tanker with the missile. Although the plot of Syriana unfolds in approximate chronological order, the various storylines are interwoven, with the action switching back and forth among them.
       Syriana was very loosely based on the 2002 book See No Evil: The True Story of a Ground Soldier in the CIA's War on Terrorism by Robert Baer, who, under the name Bob Baer, also has a small role in the film as a security guard. The memoir chronicles Baer's experiences working in the Middle East as a case officer for the Central Intelligence Agency's Directorate of Operations from 1976-1997. According to presskit materials in the film's production file at the AMPAS Library, after optioning the rights to Baer's book, George Clooney and director Steven Soderbergh approached Stephen Gaghan, who wrote the screenplay for Soderbergh's 2001 film Traffic (see below), about writing a screenplay based on the book. According to a quote by Gaghan in the presskit, he became interested in the machinations of the oil industry while working on Traffic, because, at that time, "the Pentagon's anti-terrorism and anti-narcotics branches were the same division." While researching Traffic, Gaghan began to notice parallels between the trafficking of drugs and the power plays of the oil industry.
       According to Gaghan, the only thing he retained from Baer's book was the idea that the main character was a CIA agent who had worked in the Middle East for most of his career. The presskit noted that Gaghan researched Syriana for a year before starting the screenplay, speaking with petroleum industry personnel in Lebanon, Syria, Dubai, North Africa, France, Italy, the United Kingdom and the United States. Baer also accompanied Gaghan to the Middle East, where he introduced him to oil traders, CIA operatives, arms dealers and the leader of the Islamic movement Hezbollah. The word "Syriana" is a term used by Washington think-tanks to describe a hypothetical reshaping of the Middle East. Gaghan noted that he selected the title Syriana for his screenplay because it refers to the "fallacious dream that you can successfully remake nation-states in your own image."
       According to various articles reprinted on Clooney's personal website, the original version of Syriana ran two and a half hours. After it was shown to test audiences, a decision was made to tighten up the storyline and shorten the length of the film. July 2004 news items in Daily Variety and Hollywood Reporter yield the following information about the material that was cut: According to the news items and a preliminary script review featured on the Clooney website, in one of the story lines cut from the released film, Michelle Monaghan portrayed "Mary Alice Johnson," a beauty pageant queen who becomes the lover of "Raja Salaam," an oil magnate working with the royal family. Chris McDonald played Mary Alice's father. In another story line eliminated from the released film, Greta Scacchi played "Bob Barnes's" embittered wife. According to a Daily Variety news item and Hollywood Reporter production chart published in August 2004, Dagmara Domincyk was cast, but she does not appear in the released film. Although the preliminary script review noted that Gina Gershon was in the cast, Gershon does not appear in the released film.
       Syriana was a production of Section Eight, a company partnered by Soderbergh and Clooney. According to a January 2005 New York Times article, Clooney and Soderbergh pitched their idea for forming Section Eight to Warner Brothers Pictures, which was seeking producers with potential "Oscar cachet." In 2000, Warners gave the team an office on the lot as well as paid their overhead costs. Syriana was co-financed by Participant Productions, a production company founded by eBay co-founder Jeff Skoll in January 2004 to "stimulate involvement in social issues," according to a November 15, 2005 Los Angeles Times article. According to the company's mission statement on its website, "Participant exists to tell compelling, entertaining stories that also create awareness of the real issues that shape our lives. We seek to entertain our audiences first, then to invite them to participate in making a difference next." To this end, Participant has established a website entitled www.participate.net. In conjunction with the release of Syriana, the website features a series of links to other sites dealing with topics such as "learning how to reduce your dependence on oil" and "telling Congress it's time for an oil change."
       According to the presskit, location shooting in the United States was done at the 777 Ranch in Hondo, TX, Washington, D.C. and Baltimore and Annapolis, MD. Overseas location filming took place in Casablanca, Morocco, which stood in for Tehran and Beirut; and Geneva, Switzerland at the English Garden on the left bank of Lake Geneva and at the Cimetière des Rois, where "Max Woodman's" funeral was shot. The company filmed for four weeks in Dubai in the United Arab Emirates, where The Royal Mirage Hotel stood in for the Marbella Estate home of the "Emir," and the Al-Maha Resort served as the setting for "Nasir's" meeting with "Bryan Woodman." To insure authenticity, a team of translators and dialect coaches were hired to tutor the actors in the Arabic, Urdu and Farsi dialects used in the film.
       Syriana marked the American screen debut of actor Mazhar Munir, who played "Wasim." The film also marked the motion picture debut of journalist Jon Lee Anderson, the correspondent who covered the Iraq war for The New Yorker. Soderbergh, Clooney and Matt Damon had previously worked together on Ocean's Eleven (2001), Confessions of a Dangerous Mind (2002) and Ocean's Twelve (2004), all Section Eight productions.
       In addition to being selected as one of AFI's ten Movies of the Year for 2005, Syriana received two Academy Award nominations, one for Clooney, who received the award for Best Supporting Actor, and the other Gaghan, who was nominated for Best Original Screenplay. Gaghan won the National Board of Review's award for Best Adapted Screenplay and was nominated for a Writers Guild of America award for Best Adapted Screenplay. In addition, Gaghan and Baer were nominated for a USC Scripter Award. Clooney received the Golden Globe for Supporting Actor as well as a Screen Actors Guild nomination for Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Supporting Role. The film also was nominated for a Golden Globe for Original Score (Alexandre Desplat).

Miscellaneous Notes

Voted one of the 10 best films of 2005 by the American Film Institute (AFI).

Winner of the 2005 award for Best Acting Ensmble by the Boston Society of Film Critics (BSFC).

Winner of the 2005 award for Best Adapted Screenplay by the National Board of Review (NBR).

Limited Release in United States November 23, 2005

Released in United States Fall November 23, 2005

Released in United States February 2006

Released in United States on Video June 20, 2006

Wide Release in United States December 9, 2005

Shown at Berlin International Film Festival (Competition) February 9-19, 2006.

Based on the book "See No Evil: The True Story of a Ground Soldier in the CIA's War on Terrorism" written by Robert Baer and published by Crown Publishing Group January 17, 2002.

Title "Syriana" is a geopolitical term referring to the Middle East hot spots that have proved so volatile to U.S. security.

Released in United States February 2006 (Shown at Berlin International Film Festival (Competition) February 9-19, 2006.)

Released in United States on Video June 20, 2006

Limited Release in United States November 23, 2005

Released in United States Fall November 23, 2005

Wide Release in United States December 9, 2005