"The Promise" Stands on the Shoulders of Sarky Mouradian, Filmmaker, and his "Forty Days of Musa Dagh"

April 19, 2017

“Empires fall, love survives" is the tagline for the historical drama, "The Promise," starring Christian Bale and Oscar Isaac soon to be released on April 21st.  In the Open Road film, Bale portrays an American Associated Press journalist while Isaac plays an Armenian medical student whose life is on the line during the Armenian genocide. Bale has brought his Armenian girlfriend, played by Charlotte Le Bon, from Paris to the war zone. Issac’s character is immediately smitten by her when they meet. But there’s scant time for romance as the Turkish empire devolves into bloody chaos. That results in the trio joining forces to get their people to safety — and save themselves." (source: Variety)

This work stands as a contemporary effort to raise consciousness about the Armenian Genocide, so often ignored in our history books. It would be unfair to forget that almost forty years before, Sarky Mouradian - filmmaker, songwriter and actor - laid the groundwork of giving voice to the unknown many, whose lives were lost or destroyed during the crumbling Ottoman Empire's desperate attempts to maintain its position and power post World War I.  Sarky, born to an orphan refugee living in Lebanon, dedicated his career in the United States and throughout the world to lifting up Armenian culture, celebrating its people, music and history through his films and Armenian television programming.

 

In 1962 he met Jaime. Their professional relationship and friendship would continue for over twenty-five years, with their last motion picture collaboration being "The Forty Days of Musa Dagh," based on the 1933 novel by Franz Werfel, about true events that took place in 1915 at the beginning of the Armenian Genocide. The novel focused on the self-defense by a small community of Armenians living near Musa Dagh, a mountain - now part of southern Turkey, on the Mediterranean coast—as well the events in Istanbul and provincial capitals, where the Young Turk government orchestrated the deportations, concentration camps and massacres of the empire's Armenian citizens. This policy, as well as who bore responsibility for it, has been controversial and contested since 1915. Because of this or perhaps in spite of it, the facts and scope of the Armenian Genocide were little known until Werfel’s novel, which entailed voluminous research and is generally accepted as based on historical events… In the 1970s, MGM sold its rights to "The Forty Days of Musa Dagh" and the novel was finally turned into a movie in 1982, directed by Sarky Mouradian with screenplay by Alex Hakobian. It was a low-budget, low-profile production, but told an important story. (Source: Wikipedia)

 

In the following interview recorded this past year, Sarky speaks about his film, some of the political obstacles he faced, and talks about his work with Jaime.

Listen here to Jaime’s End Title to The Forty Days of Musa Dagh.

 

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