The Promise may aim to teach audience-goers about the Armenian genocide, but its star-studded cast also got an education while making the movie.
Set during the the fall of the Ottoman Empire in 1914, the upcoming film centers around an Armenian medical student (Oscar Isaac), who travels to Constantinople and bonds with a beautiful dance instructor (Charlotte Le Bon) from his homeland — much to the displeasure of her boyfriend (Christian Bale), an American journalist. As more and more Armenians are rounded up and massacred by the Ottomans, however, the trio must band together to escape persecution and get to safety.
While Bale’s character in the film strives to bring the genocide of Armenians to light on a global scale, the actor himself told People’s Choice at the New York City premiere on Wednesday (April 20) that he was “embarrassingly not familiar at all” with the subject until recently.
“It’s the sort of great unknown genocide in modern history,” Bale told People’s Choice about the movie, which got off the ground thanks to a major investment from the late businessman Kirk Kerkorian. “The lack of consequences for this and the fact that nobody was held accountable quite possibly led to many of the consequent genocides that happened.”
According to reports, an estimated 1.5 million Armenians were killed by the Ottoman government in 1915. Many countries, including Turkey, however, still deny the genocide to this day.
Bale wasn't the only cast member enlightened by The Promise. Oscar Isaac also admitted to knowing very little about the genocide prior to working on the movie.
"Actually to my great shame, I didn't know about the genocide," Isaac said. "I kind of knew about it from a peripheral kind of way but never in any kind of detail like much of I think this country and many countries."
Isaac said the lack of recognition for the genocide, as well as the fact that all the proceeds from the movie are being donated to charity, made being involved in The Promise even more significant for him.
"They've done a good job of silencing [the Armenian genocide], so to be able to be part of something at this level, at this scale, that really puts a spotlight on it and not only puts a spotlight on the truth about what happened, but also seeks to find a way to help that that not happen again, the fact that 100 percent of the proceeds from this movie go to charity and go to human rights endeavors, I think that's a pretty great thing to be a part of," Isaac said.
Directed by Terry George (Hotel Rwanda), The Promise hits theaters this Friday (April 21).