Friday, April 28, 2017

The Promise, The Armenian Genocide
While rare, there are those moments I walk into a theater knowing nothing about the movie I am about to see. Recently one such incident occurred. there were two new movies I hadn't seen and decided that from what I had seen from the trailers and from the movie poster in the lobby that my wife would likely enjoy one more than the other, so, we decided to see The Promise.

The Promise was released on the festival circuit late 2016 and was just released into the theaters this last week. I will be honest, I knew nothing of the story, didn't know what to expect and after seeing it, am wondering if sometimes, maybe, just maybe, the feelings one has about a movie is expanded on in situations like this, whether the movie is good, or bad. If it is true, and I expect there is a measure of truth to it, The Promise is one of the best, if not the best movie I have seen in the last few years. I was shocked, moved and intrigued by this incredible story.

The Promise is a period piece that takes place in the early stages of World War One. The story takes place in Turkey and has to do with the Muslim Sect of Turkey and their attempt to largely eradicate and wipe out the Armenian Christians within their country. This attempt known as the Armenian Genocide is a little-known part of history within many circles, it is certainly a historical concept I personally knew little about.

www.thevirtualpew.comThe Promise is directed by one of our world's great directors, Terry George, noted for such important historical dramas as Hotel Rwanda and In The Name of the Father. His direction here is just as expected, outstanding.  The story also partially written by George takes us on an epic journey that one will not soon forget after seeing the movie.

Mikael Boghosian, played brilliantly by Oscar Isaac is a young man who desires to be a doctor and has to travel to Constantinople to attend medical school. In order to attend school he accepts a dowry from the family of the woman he loves, Maral played by Armenian, Angela Sarafyan. Mikael leaves the family and his betrothed behind to attend school. While in Constantinople he stays with a family member who has as a teacher for his children, Ana played beautifully by Charlotte Le Bon. Ana is in a relationship with American AP reporter Chris Myers played by Christian Bale. As things progress, there is a sort of love triangle that develops between Chris, Mikael, and Ana. It becomes clear that Ana and Mikael are truly in love and while Chris loves and sees what is going on between the two he is preoccupied with the events of the day, largely, the efforts of the Turkish Ottoman government's to wipe the Armenians from the face of the earth.  Caught up in the attempt to destroy the Armenians we see these characters story, as well as a friend of Mikael from medical school, a Muslim member of the Ottoman government, Emre Ogan played by Marwan Kenzari begin to develop and take shape. What transpires in that story is a historically epic story with a backdrop of love and faith. Not since Dr. Zhivago have I seen a story like this played out on the screen so brilliantly.

Seeds of faith, service, love and helping the least fortunate are sprinkled so heavily in this film that one would be mistaken to not take notice. From pivotal scenes in churches, among mission groups to the willingness to sacrifice life to save innocents and those in need we see these images sprinkled with images of Jesus, the cross and much more. While The Promise could have taken a heavy-handed approach to show the negative involvement of many Muslims in this world, during this time, it doesn't. One of the pivotal heroes of the story is in fact, a Muslim whose sacrificial actions save many lives. In his friendship with an Armenian Christian, we see the power of friendship which came about from sharing a mutual interest and a willingness to communicate and get to know a person of a differing belief.

www.thevirtualpew.comThere are many tragic, difficult scenes to watch in the Promise, I couldn't help but think of contemporary and current refugee issues that are going on in our world right now and the sacrifices of those seeking refuge. The Promise does a terrific job at illustrating those images to the point that one can't help but think of the difficulties that continue in our world today. Yet, in this, I am also reminded that many are even now unaware of this particular historical tragedy, and then, there is the attempt of many to pollute the story and keep others from seeing this movie. There is no better reminder of this than what can be seen taking place currently by reading the reviews by viewers on the IMDB page.

When doing research for some movies I go check out the IMDB page after seeing a movie, so it was I did with The Promise. When doing so I was shocked at the overwhelming majority of recent reviews since the movie came out of the very high ratings given the movie by viewers, it is in fact, if looking at those reviews, one of the highest rated and reviewed movies I have ever seen on this particular page. However, with a tad bit of research one can also easily see that there was what appears to be an organized effort prior to the release of this movies to critique and condemn the movie, prior to anyone seeing it. As a result, the true score or review from viewers at IMDB are not nearly as high as it would be if only reviewed by people who have seen the movie. I make mention of this for a couple of reasons, one, to let you know the movie is far better than is initially indicated from what appears to be some fan reviews, the other though, to let you know, apparently there is a large segment of society that still does not want to let people know about the atrocities that took place during the Armenian Genocide. Racism, prejudice, and hatred still exist to the point that like the White Supremacist who doesn't want to accept the reality of the Jewish Genocide during World War 2, some don't want to accept similar actions to exterminate the Christian Armenians during World War 1. 

I initially thought this movie would be boring, it is long and has a focus more on story than it does action, although there is a lot of action and intrigue. I was, however, never bored and despite being tired when I went to the movie, never lost interest.  I was so intrigued that I ended up doing research on the period of history and the Armenian Genocide from a historical perspective. While I am far from educated to the point I would like to be, the movie inspired me to learn more and I am far more knowledgeable now than I was prior to the movie.  

www.thevirtualpew.comThere is so much I would like to say about this film, it so vividly illustrates the concepts of my faith like when true love is willing to lay down one's life for another. Then the concept that real life is not always wonderful, sometimes in doing great things for others we realize that sacrifices must be made and sometimes there is a horrific cost to that sacrifice, which may or may not has any value in the long run. I was so moved by the reminder that in my faith, I live a life within a faith that thankfully realizes that it rains on the just and the unjust, so unlike some within my faith who likes to pretend that nothing bad ever happens in the life of a Christian, when in reality, sometimes it does, and there are those within my faith practice that have had to pay a horrible cost for their faith which is lived out by their actions. A Christian worldview is presented as opposed to an American Christian worldview which is in so many ways not always a real part of a faith that transcends outside of American view points.

I can't recommend this movie high enough, it is exceptional. It is so exceptional that it will enter my top 100 films of all time, likely in the top 25. It is rare as well, because it is as perfect, in as many ways as one can imagine. It is for that reason, that for me, The Promise enters a rare and truly Epic place as it is truly an Epic film in the tradition of a Dr. Zhivago or other films of the era. For the number of letters in The Promise, on a scale of 1 - 10, I give a rare, and well deserved 10 for this incredible film.

To see the trailer for this film, just click on the video below, if for some reason the video doesn't work, try the link.

I also highly recommend this video to see some of the controversy regarding the film. The interview from Charley Rose follows the trailer of the film.

The Virtual Pew and our other work is supported solely by the kind contributions of others. You can click on the donate button below to give any amount to this work that does so much more than just post articles on the net; I draw no ongoing salary from the church I pastor, Mosaic Wichita which is predominantly a homeless church; I am grateful for any small amount you can contribute to help with this ministry.  Believe me there is much more going on than most realize. I will also provide information to verify the ministry and income that comes into this ministry and work.  Thanks and feel free to share any material from The Virtual Pew, I only ask that appropriate credit is given and a link to the original site with the materials provided.

Click here to read about, and order the book, The Keystone Kid!store
Click here to visit the web page The Virtual Pew

Click here to follow The Virtual Pew on Twitter

Mike Furches on Faceboook.

Click here to visit Mosaic Church where Mike is Pastor

The Keystone Kid/Virtual Pew Message Boards

Click to subscribe to my blog

There are hundreds of postings so make sure to check out the archives. You can also contact me for a free audio book link of The Keystone Kid at You can visit

Hopefully, you will consider a gift to The Virtual Pew.

Now I get asked this quite often, Can we repost your blogs or articles? The short answer to that is, what an honor that you would ask, and by all means, spread the word. Here is our contact information

The Virtual Pew
1249 N. St. Francis
Wichita Kansas, 67214

Click on the following links to learn more about The Virtual Pew

Donations to The Virtual Pew

The Virtual Pew Blog

Personal Furches Web Site

Reviews With Mike

The Virtual Pew Sermons

The Virtual Pew News

No comments: