The Promise is a star-studded period drama set around the Armenian Genocide directed by Terry George. The film centres around Oscar Isaac as an Armenian medical student; Christian Bale, as an American journalist; and Charlotte Le Bon, as the Armenian woman both men come to love, and is set against the Armenian Genocide in Turkey at the outset of World War I.
When Michael (Oscar Isaac), meets Ana (Charlotte Le Bon), their shared Armenian heritage sparks an attraction that explodes into a romantic rivalry between Michael and Ana’s boyfriend Chris (Christian Bale), a famous American photojournalist dedicated to exposing political truth. As the Ottoman Empire crumbles into war-torn chaos, their conflicting passions must be deferred while they join forces to get their people to safety and survive themselves.
The film might never had been made if it were not for Kirk Kerkorian, the late billionaire businessman and former owner of MGM who died in 2015, a month before the production began. He decided to fully finance The Promise — the first mainstream, American film to depict the Armenian Genocide — because it had become a lifelong passion project for him. His own parents left the Ottoman Empire at the start of the genocide, during which an estimated 1.5 million Armenians died.
Kerkorian wanted the film to have some big name stars so that it would draw attention, so director Terry George ( who also directed 2004's Hotel Rwanda starring Don Cheadle) re-wrote Robin Swicord's screenplay, adding Bale's character to not only create a love triangle for added drama, but also to further depict various key events with what he calls that “old-fashioned historical epic" feel. The main cast's only actor of Armenian descent is Westworld's Angela Sarafyan, but many of the behind the scenes staff and crew were Armenian.
The film had it's world premiere in September at the Toronto International Film Festival and the biggest challenge was finding a distributor due to the fact that the genocide remains controversial. In December, domestic rights landed at Open Road Films in the U.S. and Eone in Canada, who will release it wide on April 21 — the week of the April 24 anniversary of the Armenian Genocide.
I spoke with the films stars Christian Bale, Charlotte Le Bon, Angela Sarafyan, Shohreh Aghdashloo, James Cromwell and director Terry George in Los Angeles about working on the film, how it is relevant today and why they felt it was important to be a part of this movie.
Please click below for all of my interviews.
THE PROMISE WILL BE IN THEATRES ON FRIDAY APRIL 21ST.