The Promise, An Exemplary Movie

Still from the Armenian Genocide, movie directed by Terry George, "The Promise"
Catherine Yesayan

Catherine Yesayan


If you’re like me… I could hardly wait for the April 21, when it was the nationwide opening night of “The Promise,” — the first ever big budget Hollywood movie on the Armenian Genocide. I had checked a few movie reviews, and my heart was broken by the not so good critics which later I realized there were smear campaign from the other side.

Last night, a day before the National premiere, I had the privilege of being invited to a private screening of the movie in San Mateo, California, a suburb of San Francisco. It happened that I was in the Bay Area and I could attend the preview.

A San Mateo couple, Lori and Ara Jabagchourian had bought out a movie theater to share the film with their Armenian and non-Armenian friends for the special screening. The theatre seats 282 people of which 180 were non-Armenian guests.

Lori told me the idea of organizing a private showing of the movie came to her when she realized that her son’s school teacher, didn’t know anything about Armenians and the history behind it.

The movie which is a love triangle with the Armenian Genocide in the backdrop during Ottoman era, is a coherently constructed drama. Let me clarify it was above my expectation. I loved the acting, the storyline and the cinematography.

I should emphasize that Oscar Isaac playing the role of Mykael, who leaves his fiancé in their village in Anatolia and heads to Constantinople to study medicine at the university and become a doctor, is exemplary.  

I left the theater with wet eyes. After the screening the Jabagchourians had invited the whole crowd to Pacific Catch restaurant, which was right across the movie theater. We had a good time to mingle and learn about other people’s take. Everybody was raving about the movie.

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  1. Diana Aghakhanian said:

    Thank you to dear San Mateo residents, Mr. and Mrs. Jabagchourian. What an act of appreciation to hire an entire movie theater to let your Armenian and twice as many Non-Armenians of 282 people view “The Promise.” As they say in Armenian: “Vartskernit Gadar.” Another thank you is due to Catherine Yesayan for her eloquent article titled: “The Promise , An Exemplary Movie. #KeepThePromise #NeverstaySilent

  2. Victoria Markarian said:

    Ms. Yesayan, I completely concur. Besides being totally wrapped up in the story, I was so impressed with the effort to make everything as authentic as possible: pronunciation of names, musical background, scenery, costumes, life in Istanbul & the provinces, etc. And I was so pleased that the director chose to add more history & authentic photos at the end for the audience’s edification. And it only took 102 years!!

  3. Andre Samurkashian said:

    I think the time is ripe for the youth to start making some noise, a lot of it. Please don’t think of this movie as “the game changer; ” perceive it as a precursor to the great things ensuing generations are going to do .. the future looks bright! It’s Go Time.

  4. Gregory Basmadjian said:

    We are looking forward to viewing this film tonight in the Cineworld theatre, Milton Keynes, UK…much has been said about it, I trust it too will meet our expectations. Pamphlets advertising the film were handed out to Non-Armenians during our march through London on Saturday; talk about marketing!!
    God bless Hayastan.