When it comes to a majority of the films I review, most of them are not significant in the grand scheme of things. Movies like the Fate of the Furious and Life do not really add anything to the our greater social knowledge, but every once and a while a movie does come around that can teach everyone about something that is actually important. The Promise is one of those movies and even if you don’t decide to go see this film, it would be worth it to research it and learn something about an atrocity that many people do not know about.
Story: The Promise is about Mikael, a young Armenian man living in the Ottoman Empire prior to and during the First World War. He goes to Constantinople to enroll in medical school but while in school, gets deported when the Ottoman government begins to detain Armenians across the empire. The story from there is one of hardship, love, suffering, loss, anger, and more. While the story drags on a bit too much in certain places and much of the focus on Mikael’s love interest is sort of convoluted, as a whole, the story is quite eye opening to many of the horrors and atrocities that the Armenians went through during WWI.
Acting: The stars of the film are Oscar Isaac, Charlotte Le Bon, and Christian Bale. Isaac’s performance overall is good with some scenes that are nothing short of fantastic, while Le Bon is a consistent good overall. While Issac is good with some great mixed in, Bale is the opposite. Bale’s portrayal of the American journalist Chris Myers is no less than good as a whole but a few of his scenes are just too much. As he typically does, Christian Bale goes ham and ends up just being out of place.
Presentation: The movie looks good but I feel like an opportunity was missed here to show some beautiful shots of the then-Ottoman Empire and contrast it with shots of Armenians suffering through some atrocious conditions. Don’t get me wrong, the movie does show the latter but I think the director missed an opportunity to truly hammer home the Armenian’s suffering by contrasting it with some beautiful and tranquil scenes of modern day Turkey.
Effect: As an American, I was taught from an early age about the atrocities of the Nazis and the Holocaust. We read about concentration camps, Anne Frank and watch films like Schindler’s List and it’s all for good reasons. It is important to know how the Third Reich did what it did and how we should ensure that something like it never happens again. However, we rarely focus on the atrocities of the Armenian Genocide. We don’t read any personal accounts or do projects on it or watch movies in school about it. Hell. Only 25 countries recognize it (NOT EVEN TURKEY).. My point here is that we should try to learn more about other events like the Armenian Genocide and this movie gives you a good glimpse into both what the Armenians went through and just how far the Ottoman government went in trying to eradicate an entire group of people.
Other: My final gripe about this movie is that it’s long. It gets a little tedious in certain places and while it doesn’t take away from the overall message of the film, it would’ve benefited from being slightly shorter.
Well I think I’ve said my peace. You should go and watch this film. Maybe not in theaters but you should see it at some point. Try and educate yourself. Or something like that.