Film / The Promise (2016)
aka: The Promise

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The Promise is a 2016 American historical drama film directed by Terry George and starring Oscar Isaac, Charlotte Le Bon and Christian Bale, set in the final years of the Ottoman Empire. The film premiered on September 11, 2016, at the Toronto International Film Festival and was released in the United States on April 21, 2017, by Open Road Films.

The Promise is about a love triangle that develops between Armenian medical student Mikael (Isaac), an American journalist based in Paris named Chris (Bale) and an Armenian-born woman raised in France, Ana (Le Bon), during the final years of the Ottoman Empire, and during the Armenian Genocide. It was financed by the late Kirk Kerkorian, and is the first major Hollywood film to deal with the topic of the Armenian genocide.

The film follows Mikael, a medical student from the village of Siroun who is put into an arranged engagement in order to use the dowry money to advance his education in Constantinople. While there he becomes enamored with a woman named Ana who is staying with his uncle Vartan, as is American reporter Chris Myers. However, as the Ottoman Empire is pulled into World War I, the Turkish government begins to enact its plan to exterminate the Armenians, who are accused of aiding the invading Russians. Mikael soon finds himself placed in a prison camp, but eventually escapes and tries to return to his village. All the while, Chris Myers attempts to document the carnage and put a stop to it.


Tropes:

  • Action Bomb: Comes with a dose of Taking You with Me. Mikael and a friend he meets at the prison camp were helping an injured prisoner to his feet when a Turkish soldier shot the injured prisoner in the back, and forced Mikael's friend to thank him for relieving him of the burden. Later when he and Mikael are loading crates of dynamite onto a train, the prisoner takes a crate and approaches the same Turkish soldier, saying "Thank you" before throwing the crate to the ground and blowing them both up. This enables Mikael to escape.
  • Always Chaotic Evil: Completely defied and averted with the Turks as many are shown to not be on board with the Armenian genocide and do what they can to stop it. Three notable examples include:
    • Mustafa, a driver who helps escort the orphans out to Musa Dagh and stays with the Armenians.
    • A city leader appearing before the American Protestant Mission in Turkey, risking his life to inform them that an evacuation must start.
    • Emre: The son of a Turkish aristocrat who betrays his father and government to report on Chris being imprisoned and nearly executed to Henry Morgenthau, the American ambassador to the Ottomans. This gets Emre out right killed, but his actions allow Chris to inform the French navy that a large number of Armenians are trapped and need aid.
  • America Saves the Day: Extra focus is put on American reporter Chris Myers doing his best to save every Armenian he can regardless of his safety, and US ambassador Henry Morgenthau's attempts to stop the genocide is also shown. While Americans did contribute to helping Armenians at the time, no mention is made of the efforts by Germans (mainly German missionaries who used their status as members of an allied nation to rescue orphans) and Russians (who's invading army stopped the genocidal campaign in its track in the east). This is likely to give American audiences someone to relate to. Then again the movie places a lot of emphasis on The French being The Cavalry who rescue the Armenian civilians in Musa Dagh.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Chris, Mikael and Yeva survive the genocide, but Mikael's hometown and his family are gone. Ana drowns however and while Chris survives, he dies later on in 1938 while covering the Spanish Civil War. Luckily the orphans survive and grow up as healthy adults who attend Yeva's wedding with an American Marine in 1942.
  • The Cavalry: The French navy in the end, saves everyone at Musa Dagh. This is based on what happened in Real Life.
  • Doomed Home Town: The genocide eventually reaches Siroun, and almost every Armenian is killed, save for Mikael's mother and niece who survived buried under dead bodies.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • The presence of German officers in Constantinople foreshadow the Ottoman Empire's entry into World War I a few months later.
    • Said presence of German officers as well as Henry Morgenthau's affirmation of his Jewish heritage before the Pasha foreshadows the eventual genocide of the Jews at the hands of the Nazi Germans, who used similar techniques as the Ottomans.
  • Historical-Domain Character: Several appear, such as US ambassador Henry Morgenthau, famous Armenian composer Gomitas Vardapet and Young Turk member and orchestrator of the Armenian genocide Talaat Pasha.
  • Intrepid Reporter: Chris Myers puts his life on the line for his reporting. Although he survives the genocide, his life does end while covering the Spanish Civil War in 1938.
  • Killed Offscreen: The fate of most of the town of Siroun. Also the ultimate fate of Chris Myers, decades after the main events of the film.
  • Love Triangle: Between Mikael, Chris, and Ana. This is complicated by the fact that Mikael was already betrothed to Maral, a woman in his home village.
  • A Nazi by Any Other Name: Driven home early on in the film where a group of German officials, visiting their allies in the Ottoman Empire, sing "Deutschland Uber Alles" (a song that although closely associated with the Nazis today had been Germany's national anthem since the 1800's), thus reminding the viewer that Germany was paying marked attention to the Armenian genocide and would use many of the same techniques in the Holocaust less than 30 years later.
  • Orphan's Ordeal: Mikael and Chris both take it upon themselves to smuggle a group of orphans out of the country, only to discover that their escape route has already been cut off by the Turks and the Armenian villages plundered. They instead make their way to Musa Dagh with some other survivors.
  • The Promise: The titular promise was the one Mikael made to his fiance to return to Siroun after getting his medical degree. He does technically keep it after escaping the labor camp, but not before having an affair with Ana.
  • Railroad Tracks of Doom: Mikael narrowly escapes being hit by a train while walking on the tracks. Instead he dodges it and hops onto the back.
  • The Siege: The Musa Dagh defense is portrayed, in which a group of Armenians were besieged on the mountain of Musa Dagh for forty days before being rescued by French warships.
  • Star-Crossed Lovers: Mikael and Ana.
  • Train Escape: Mikael hops on the back of a train after escaping the prison camp, only to find it filled with Armenians being taken to their death.

Alternative Title(s): The Promise

http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Film/ThePromise2016?from=Film.ThePromise