It might be fresh material, but the approach is decidedly stale.
The elections in Turkey on April 16 reversed what one expert called the country's 100-year experiment in democracy and cemented the fact that successive Turkish governments will continue to deny the Armenian Genocide. Could big moments hit just a little harder? He would later go on to buy, and then sell, MGM, the very same studio that had tried-and failed-to make a film about the horrors.
The movie premiered at the Toronto Film Festival last fall, but has only been screened a handful of times since then.
To say that The Promise is instantly forgettable would be to be too kind to Terry George's film.
Christian Bale: For me, continuing off from what Oscar was saying, to try and get into that mindset, and to try even in a very small way to understand the pain they must have gone through, in that people were telling them they were lying. A small group of short-sighted pinheads thought they were superior to people occupying the same turf and made a decision to snuff them out. In 1939 Hitler once said "Who, after all, speaks today of the annihilation of the Armenians?". It's this great unknown genocide, and the lack of outcome may have provoked other genocides that have happened since. Meyers is chased down by Turkish soldiers on horseback, and a subplot that sees him almost executed are interesting and provide a necessary look at the Turkish government's cruelty, but blend only as far as Meyers is a man in the narrative. The official argument has been that massacres occurred on both sides during the First World War, and that, to the extent that Armenians were targets of Turkish or Muslim violence, this was due to Armenian provocations and not to a policy of genocide. What's fascinating is how Rusesabagina begins as a flatterer and briber of officers who come to ogle Western women - and how he ends up using those same talents to keep his family and hundreds of Tutsis taking refuge in his hotel from being dragged out and murdered. So we talked that out. The film is based in era before World War 1. But that helps to add another aspect of reality to Mikael's character.
In this lush production that is meant to engage our emotions and teach us about a genocide where the perpetrators won and the government has never made reparations or even admitted what happened, I was left wanting more.
At least, that's what we can glean from the events depicted onscreen. Barack Obama promised he would recognise the genocide when he was a candidate but backtracked on the promise once he was elected.
Can you possibly talk about any of the unsung heroes that you found out about? (James Cromwell), the American Ambassador to the Ottoman Empire, the only credited non-fictional character in the film. It strikes me as fantastic that today there are no people with that sort of moral outrage as part of our state department. One of the reasons you do a film like this is that it has a narrative at the core so that an audience can come in and feel what other people feel. "At first, we didn't know how ill she was, and she didn't either, but as things progressed, it was much easier to say no to things".
Bale is a little miscast as the crusading journalist (the character seems like he should be older and more world-weary), but Isaac disappears before our eyes into the role of Michael, totally inhabiting the role.
What you're led to feel instead is an intellectual, detached sort of sympathy: you know what you're seeing is tragic, but you don't feel it. "The new nationalism in Turkey, especially after Turkey's enormous losses in the Balkan wars, [led to the feeling] that Turkey could only be revived and saved if it got rid of its Christian minority populations".
"The fact that thousands of people have surged onto the internet to write negative reviews about a film that they haven't even seen is a clear indication that this is a politically motivated campaign", Belian said.