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Armenian Christian Genocide Brought to Big Screen in 'The Promise' Starring Christian Bale (Review)

Armenian Christian Genocide Brought to Big Screen in 'The Promise' Starring Christian Bale (Review)

"The Promise" is a moving and poignant film about injustice and Christian persecution during the last days of The Ottoman Empire, 2017. | (Photo: Grace Hill Media)

"The Promise" hits theaters this weekend and while it features a love story about a journalist (played by A-list actor Christian Bale) who's stuck in a riveting love triangle, what the film is actually about is the 1914 genocide of Armenian Christians.

The Armenian Genocide is "one of the greatest and least known catastrophes of the 20th century," says director and co-writer Terry George (" Hotel Rwanda"). And as a Christian watching the film one can't ignore the strong faith of Armenian Christians portrayed throughout the film.

Beginning with a blessing and ending in a prayer, the film journeys through opportunity, disappointment, love, war, death and victory. With a strong reverence for their faith, those who are being persecuted are seen attending church, sacrificing themselves for others, looking to clergy for shelter and guidance, and ultimately fighting to keep their people alive as they proudly display a cross bearing banner as their representation.

A short synopsis of the film reads: "Medical student Michael (Oscar Isaac) meets beautiful dance instructor Ana (Charlotte Le Bon) in late 1914. Their shared Armenian heritage sparks an attraction that explodes into a romantic rivalry between Michael and Ana's boyfriend, Christopher (Christian Bale), an American photojournalist who's dedicated to exposing the truth. As the Ottoman Empire crumbles into war-torn chaos, their conflicting passions must be deferred as they join forces to get themselves and their people to safety." 

In the historical drama, Michael survives death multiple times, prompting his family to openly thank "Jesus" for it when he escapes a labor camp. Unfortunately, those around him don't have the same good fortune and one by one they are killed, making the film an emotional roller coaster that you will not want to stop watching.

One of the most climatic part of "The Promise" is when the unlikely pair of allies, Michael and Christopher, encounter the Ottoman massacre of Michael's entire village. That eventually leads them to join a group of refugees who are determined to fight the Ottoman army.

The movie eventually comes to a positive end, but not before breaking viewers' hearts one last time.

Concluding years after the genocide has ended, the film leaves a sense of uncertainty about whether or not the Armenian people would ever be truly be free from oppression. The main character prays, "Dear Lord, Help us survive these cruel times so we may once again sing your praises."

The film also ends with a powerful poem by William Saroyan.

I should like to see any power of the world destroy this race, this small tribe of unimportant people, whose wars have all been fought and lost, whose structures have crumbled, literature is unread, music is unheard, and prayers are no more answered. Go ahead, destroy Armenia . See if you can do it. Send them into the desert without bread or water. Burn their homes and churches. Then see if they will not laugh, sing and pray again. For when two of them meet anywhere in the world, see if they will not create a New Armenia.

"The Promise" will be playing in theaters nationwide on April 21. For more information, click here.

In this scene, Michael temporarily manages to avoid conscription in the Turkish army through a medical student exemption with the help of a friend, April 21, 2017. | (Photo: Grace Hill Media)
Follow Jeannie Law on Twitter: @jlawcp


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