In seeing The Promise, directed by Terry George, and starring Oscar Isaac, Charlotte Le Bon, Christian Bale, but you realize half way into the movie you realize some pertinent points, this is a film that captures your heart due to the victims of a holocaust that occurred. I left this film grateful for the characters that committed themselves to sending the message of events happening far away, and letting anyone in the world realize events that seem far away, are close when they affect people’s very way of life.
I thought how important it would be for individuals to start using film and media to get the messages of saving people’s way of life, and supporting each other all over the world, instead of simply to make money off the most spectacular film? There are countless stories where lives of children, whole cultures, are threatened, because they are just out of reach of those that can help. Movies and film can certainly be a way to allow those in need to be within reach. I felt this film brought that realization even closer.
Several months ago I actually had the privilege to see this film in the theatre, and still, the beautiful scenery, amid the love story and tragedy that took place, and the message of getting the Armenian Genocide across to the world and the realization that the United States has always stood for the diversity that makes this country capable of being an advocate for all ethnicities, I love that this possibility exists, and hope that the powers that be realize how important lives are, here and abroad. It makes me sad that the money grossed from this film was so low, only in that the message I hoped would be so powerful that many would make it a point to see.
The way so many lives interconnected, and how many lives were affected by selfish governments, this point does not fail to reach you in viewing this film. Despite the actors being stars, you find yourself sucked into the plight of so many children, women, men, residents of Armenia, and I found myself disappointed that I was not more aware of this, despite this occurring in 1915 but not being a major study of any history studies, I wish I would have been exposed to such incidents to be aware of what we, as a country and world can do to help shed more awareness of such tragedies to prevent them. Of course, we can’t prevent such incidents all over the world, but I do see the possibility of using media more effectively to spread awareness than it has in the past.
I detest the reviews that state this move did not utilize the actors as well as they could have, as if the purpose was to have actors and actresses shine, and forego the message and plight of this genocide. I hope that everyone does take the effort to make this film a part of their agenda, and to realize how powerful a medium can be to prevent an UNawareness of events that occur in the world. In that sense, this movie ranks as one of the best I have seen due to the purpose, effectiveness, and effort put to document an event that all should clamor to prevent in the future. During the course of this film, so much more effective historical education is revealed than most would get through a textbook, and is food for so much thought and discussion, that this except of an event from this event, as well as this film, reveals the stories that haunt our histories:
“A photograph, taken by the American W. L. Sachtleben, depicting the victims of a massacre of Armenians in Erzerum on October 30, 1895, being gathered for burial at the town’s Armenian cemetery. “What I myself saw this Friday afternoon [November 1] is forever engraven on my mind as the most horrible sight a man can see. I went with one of the cavasses of the English Legation, a soldier, my interpreter, and a photographer (Armenian) to the Armenian Gregorian cemetery. The municipalty had sent down a number of bodies, friends had brought more, and a horrible sight met my eyes. Along the wall on the north …. lay 321 dead bodies of the massacred Armenians. Many were fearfully mangled and mutilated. I saw one with his face completely smashed in with a blow of some heavy weapon after he was killed. I saw some with their necks almost severed by a sword cut. One I saw whose whole chest had been skinned, his forearms were cut off, while the upper arm was skinned of flesh. I asked if the dogs had done this. ‘No, the Turks did it with their knives’. A dozen bodies were half burned.” … “A crowd of a thousand people, mostly Armenians, watched me taking photographs of their dead. Many were weeping beside their dead fathers or husbands.” W. L. Sachtleben, “Letter to the Editor”, the London Times, December 14th 1895 (quoted in G. Aivazian, “Sachtleben Papers on Erzurum”, in “Armenian Karin/Erzurum”, ed R. G. Hovannisian).”
I realize that sometimes it takes films to bring what we can do as individuals to make a change for the better. Sometimes we all need that nudge. This films SHOVES us in that direction and memorializes the many lives that never should have been lost. All the while we are brought up close and personal to what can occur with attention, being proactive, and being knowledgeable of making a difference.