Set during the last days of the Ottoman Empire, The Promise follows a love triangle between Michael, a brilliant medical student, the beautiful and sophisticated Ana, and Chris - a renowned American journalist based in Paris.
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In 1915 a genocide happened in the Ottoman Empire and about 1.5 million Armenians were systematically murdered by the government of the Young Turks. This is a movie about the life of a ... See full summary »
The film tells the story of Michael (Oscar Isaac), a young Armenian who dreams of studying medicine. When he travels to Constantinople to study, he meets Armenian Ana (Charlotte Le Bon) and falls in love with her, although she dates the American photographer Chris (Christian Bale), sent to Turkey to record the first genocide of the 20th century when the Turks exterminated the Armenian minority. A love triangle settles amidst the horrors of war.
This feature film was fully financed by billionaire Kirk Kerkorian, who was of Armenian extraction and whose family had lived through these events. When he owned MGM in the early 1980s, he couldn't even persuade his own studio chief, Frank Yablans, to greenlight this picture in part because of Turkey's pressure on U.S., which has military bases in Turkey. Because political tension dated back to the early 20th century and one of the roles was originally intended for Clark Gable. See more »
Near the end, Michael, as the narrator says that Yeva joined the Women's Army Auxiliary Corps (actually, he says "Women's Army Corps, a common movie mistake) after the Japanese attack on Pearl, but she is wearing a U.S. Marine Corps uniform. See more »
Our village sat high in the mountains of Southern Turkey. It was half Turk, half Armenian. I was the local apothecary. For 200 years the Boghosians made medicines using formulas handed down from our ancestors. All right. We treated everyone alike... Muslim and Christian, rich and poor. Every morning and night. I was proud of our craft. But making potions from herbs and minerals was not enough. My greatest desire was to study medicine at the imperial school in ...
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"The Promise" is a powerfully engaging and enlightening drama.
The most infamous genocide in history, Adolf Hitler's murder of 6,000,000 Jews during World War II, was not the first genocide to take place, or even the first one of the 20th century. Nearly three decades before the term genocide was even coined, from 1915 to 1923, the government of the Ottoman Empire (present day Turkey) killed 1,500,000 ethnic Armenians within their borders. Under the cover of World War I, the Ottoman government carried out mass executions, subjected able-bodied men to forced labor and drove women, children and the elderly on death marches into the Syrian Desert. As with any human tragedy, personalizing the story brings about greater understanding of the events that took place. That is what the drama "The Promise" (PG-13, 2:12) attempts to do, drawing its inspiration from historical events and adapting part of Franz Werfel's 1933 novel, "The Forty Days of Musa Dagh", the first book that brought the story of the Armenian Genocide widespread attention around the world.
Mikael Boghosian (Golden Globe winner Oscar Isaac) is from a small Armenian village, but dreams of becoming a doctor so he can be of service to his people. He is engaged to Maral (Angela Sarafyan) and, with the blessing of her and her family, plans to use her dowry to go to Constantinople (modern Istanbul) to study medicine. Mikael promises Maral that he will return to her as soon as he graduates. In Constantinople, he meets people who would later have a big impact his life, including fellow medical student (and son of an Ottoman military officer) Mustafa (Numan Acar), American journalist Chris Myers (Oscar winner Christian Bale) and Chris' girlfriend, a beautiful Armenian named Ana (Charlotte Le Bon), who was raised in France and is serving as nanny to the children of Mikael's uncle in Constantinople.
As World War I turns Ottoman society into a military state, Mustafa helps Mikael avoid being forced into the Ottoman Army, based on his medical student exemption. This deferment is short-lived, however. When Mikael tries to help his uncle who has been arrested, he himself is sent to a forced labor camp. Mikael escapes and returns to his village where his mother (Oscar nominee Shohreh Aghdashloo) urges him to take Maral and hunker down in a cabin in the woods, unaware that Mikael has fallen in love with Ana. Meanwhile, Chris is jeopardizing his freedom and even his life by steadfastly reporting on the military rounding up ethnic Armenians. The intensifying Ottoman campaign against the Armenians causes Mikael to repeatedly cross paths with Ana and Chris, as they all fight to survive, to help the Armenian people and, ultimately, to resolve the very personal issue of their complicated love triangle.
"The Promise" is a powerfully engaging and enlightening drama. The film's story is similar to that of "The Ottoman Lieutenant", which was released earlier in 2017, but "The Promise" has a more widely and deeply talented cast. It also has a better script, written by Terry George (who also directs this film and previously co-wrote and directed 2004's "Hotel Rwanda"), along with Robin Swicord. As deeply as the movie goes into the suffering of the Armenian people, it never loses touch with the individual human stories which drive its plot. There's plenty of drama on the personal level, as well as in the overarching political and military realms. The romance subplot, which could have ended up sappy or emotionally manipulative in the hands of a lesser director, further adds to the film's impact. Although the "promise" isn't as integral as the title implies, this is an otherwise exceptional film. "A-"
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