Turkey tries to smear The Promise's genocide stance prior to release

Mike P Williams
Contributor

Hollywood’s latest historical-drama ‘The Promise’ is receiving a bitter reception – and that’s before it was even released.

Credit: Survival Pictures

Set during the final days of the Ottoman Empire, the story revolves around a love triangle that entangles Oscar Isaac, Charlotte Le Bon, and Christian Bale. However, it’s the film’s stance that 1.5 million Armenians were slaughtered that is the issue. Many countries agree that this historical event was an act of genocide – everyone except the Turkish government.

As a result, the movie has riled Turkey and resulted in a preemptive smear of the film before it had even hit cinemas. The Hollywood Reporter were first to pick up on the massive activity on the film’s IMDb page, where it has received over 126,000 votes. Interestingly, 49.9% of the voters rated it 10/10 and 48.6% rated it 1/10. It becomes clear that the negative opinions are part of a campaign to damage the film – recognising the period as an act of genocide is still vehemently denied by Turkey to this day.

Currently, ‘The Promise’ is at a 5.5/10. But with the 10/10 voters joining in to even things up, the film’s rating has been manipulated into irrelevance. No doubt the IMDb trolling is just one part of the campaign against the Terry George (‘Hotel Rwanda’)-directed film.

Its Rotten Tomatoes rating is also mixed, currently at a very middling 45% but with an 86% audience score.

The denial will no doubt carry on and even exacerbate as it finally hits US and UK cinemas. Only this week Turkish president Tayyip Erdoğan was branded the country’s dictator after a number of constitutional changes, which included abolishing the position of prime minister and handing greater executive power to him the president.

Credit: Survival Pictures

After its premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival last September, people – specifically Turkish nationals it seems – were quick to jump on the film for its historical depiction and slam it.

Not only is it experiencing strong opposition from Turkey but reports claim the movie is set to be a flop at the box office as well.

“It became clear that the government of Turkey was going to have an influence on this movie. One of the most insidious realities of our existence in the United States is that foreign governments can control art,” said Eric Esrailian, who is currently heading the production company that’s backed the project with a $100 million budget. He goes on to say that no matter how good the film is, it’d still suffer due to this mass attempt to discredit and smear the production.

It just goes to show if a film provokes certain countries over its political message, then it can have a detrimental affect on its performance and reception. The film has been released in the States in time for Armenian Genocide Remembrance Day on 24 April.

‘The Promise’ is out now in the US and hits UK cinemas on 28 April.

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