Hollywood takes on a tragedy of history– in movies from opposing perspectives

Hollywood takes on a tragedy of history– in movies from opposing perspectives

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Charlotte Le Bon stars as an Armenian woman raised in France, and Christian Bale as an outspoken American reporter in”The Promise.”(Jose Haro/Open Roadway Movies)Turks and Armenians have been in a bitter, long-running dispute over the deaths of more than 1 million Armenians throughout World War I in the Ottoman Empire. Armenians call it a genocide; the Turkish federal government states the killings were not methodical, occurring in the midst of war.Now, the dispute has concerned Hollywood. 2 movies this spring include an intense love triangle that unfolds in this historic setting– but their political agendas are greatly various.

“The Guarantee,” opening across the country April 21, is the first significant Hollywood film to depict exactly what an agreement of historians calls the Armenian genocide, which involved forced-march deportations and mass killings over a number of years beginning in 1915.

Oscar Isaac plays a young Armenian guy who moves from his small town to Istanbul in 1914 to study medicine. There, as the predominantly Muslim Ottoman Empire enters the war on the side of Germany and switches on its own minority Christian Armenian population, he fulfills and falls in love with an Armenian female raised in France (Charlotte Le Bon of “The Walk”), who is romantically involved with an outspoken American reporter for the Associated Press (Christian Bale).

Talaat Pasha, considered the mastermind behind the killings, is one of the real-life figures in the film, which spares none of the Turkish atrocities against the Armenians, from the ruthless labor camps for boys to the massacres of females, children and the elderly.


Michiel Huisman, as an Ottoman military officer who looks for the love of a headstrong American nurse, in”

The Ottoman Lieutenant. “(Anne Marie Fox/Paladin )Though”The Ottoman Lieutenant”appears comparable on the surface area, it provides a very different interpretation of history. The movie– which opened March 10 with a minimal release– tells the imaginary story of a headstrong American nurse (Icelandic actress Hera Hilmar) who takes a trip to eastern Anatolia (now Turkey) to operate at an American Objective Health Center. Throughout the war, she is pulled between 2 males seeking her affections: an American physician (Josh Hartnett) and a Muslim Ottoman lieutenant (Michiel Huisman of “Game of Thrones”).

The movie takes an approach similar to the position of the Turkish government, which has long held that there was no state-organized policy of ethnic cleansing versus Armenians. Rather, Turkey insists, throughout the battling on the Ottoman Empire’s eastern front against the Russians, Turkish and Armenian civilians alike died in the course of wartime violence.

Taner Akcam of Clark University, one of the couple of historians from Turkey to recognize the occasions as a genocide, states that the country’s government chooses not to acknowledge Turkish responsibility partly since of the sensitive issue of reparations for survivors and their descendants. The stance likewise stems from deeper roots: the nation’s founding in 1923 on the ashes of the Ottoman Empire.

“If you acknowledge the Armenian genocide, then you need to acknowledge that a crucial number of Turkish starting fathers were either included straight in genocide or prospered throughout the genocidal procedure” through the seizure of Armenian home, stated Akcam.

Both films remained in the works well before the April 24, 2015, centenary of the disaster, which helped increase awareness of the topic.

“The Armenian genocide is one of the most well-documented humanitarian catastrophes of the 20th century,” stated Eric Esrailian, lead manufacturer for Survival Pictures, which produced “The Promise”– his very first movie, as he’s also a doctor at UCLA’s David Geffen School of Medication. “It was, in genuine time. frequently blogged about in U.S. newspapers. There was a substantial humanitarian relief effort.”


Oscar Isaac and Le Bon in” The Guarantee.”(

Jose Haro/Open Roadway Movies) It is mainly due to Turkish pressure on the film market that a film like “The Promise” was not made quicker. In the 1930s, MGM got the film rights to “The Forty Days of Musa Dagh,” Franz Werfel’s very popular novel inspired by the true story of a number of thousand Armenians who endured a mountaintop siege. Lobbying by Turkish Ambassador to the United States Mehmet Munir Ertegun (whose son Ahmet went on to discovered Atlantic Records) required the studio to drop the task.

Recent years have actually seen a number of small-scale indie features that handle the catastrophe, including Armenian Canadian director Atom Egoyan’s “Ararat” (2002) and Turkish German director Fatih Akin’s “The Cut” (2014 ).

“The Promise” was likewise established outside the studio system, funded totally by the late magnate Kirk Kerkorian, who owned MGM for lots of years and later founded Survival Pictures in 2012.

“The ‘pledge’ suggests a lot to us personally,” stated Esrailian. “The promise was from Mr. Kerkorian to make the movie. The guarantee was from us to complete the movie. The promise is for us to always remember. And the promise is for us to also vow to do something so that it never ever takes place again.”

With a budget of almost $100 million, the film is among the most pricey independent movies ever made, inning accordance with Range. And the whole venture is not-for-profit: Survival Pictures has devoted to contributing all earnings to not-for-profit companies, including the Elton John AIDS Foundation and “other human rights and humanitarian groups.”

“The Ottoman Lieutenant” was likewise made with personal financing, in this case from a group of Turkish manufacturers operating in film, TELEVISION and advertising. They teamed up with manufacturer Stephen Joel Brown (“7”), as well as an American director, Joseph Ruben (“The Forgotten”), and screenwriter, Jeff Stockwell (“Bridge to Terabithia”), to make a feature that would have high production values.In an interview

, Brown kept that their film was not looking for to promote a specific political program, describing it as “a traditional love story, set at a time and location that we actually haven’t seen in cinema.”


Hera Hilmar and Huisman in “The Ottoman Lieutenant.” (Anne Marie Fox/Paladin)

While foregrounding the clandestine romance in between the American nurse and the Ottoman lieutenant, the movie does not totally avoid showing the suffering of the Armenians, particularly in one essential scene including Turkish soldiers. “That [scene] appears kind of unequivocally stating, Turks force-marched Armenians and then slaughtered them along the method,” said Stockwell, the screenwriter. “Whatever you desire to quibble about, there it is. Now, exists enough? Is it soft-pedaled?”

However, focusing the action on the town of Van and showing one of the few Armenian revolts, which happened there in April and May 1915, has the result of promoting the Turkish story, which indicates the Van resistance as a validation for repression of the Armenians.

“The main Turkish argument is that deportation of Armenians was a response to Armenian uprisings,” said Akcam (who has not seen “The Ottoman Lieutenant”). “This is the reason the Van occasion is vital in Ottoman Turkish historiography. This argument is not appropriate, since. we know that the decision for deportation was already taken before the Van uprising.”

(The studio did not make the Turkish producers available for interviews.)

A large contingent of Turks, along with numerous in the Armenian diaspora, have understood “The Guarantee” for a long time. Last October, outlets including the Independent reported that it had more than 85,000 ratings on IMDb, almost all of them either 1 or 10 stars. Considered that the movie had had simply 3 public screenings by that point, it appeared clear that users who had not even seen it were “rating” it based purely on their politics.

Likewise, prior to “The Ottoman Lieutenant” had actually even opened, it was rapidly dismissed in Armenian American publications and in YouTube remarks areas as Turkish propaganda.

While neither motion picture is likely to settle the dispute over the occasions of World War I, these representations might trigger some Americans to check out the historical record– and draw their own conclusions.

By Vanessa H. Larson By Vanessa H. Larson

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https://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/style/hollywood-takes-on-a-historic-tragedy-in-two-films-from-opposing-viewpoints/2017/03/16/13f47224-099c-11e7-b77c-0047d15a24e0_story.html