Paradise Lost director Joe Berlinger’s new Intent to Destroy is a historical documentary, as well as a making-of about a movie that you probably didn’t see: Terry George’s historical drama The Promise, which tanked hard when it was released in April 2017 despite starring Christian Bale and Oscar Isaac. Granted full access to cast and crew — though Bale and Isaac themselves are never interviewed — Berlinger uses The Promise‘s lavish, $90 million production as an entrance into the history of its topic, the still-controversial Armenian Genocide carried out during World War I.
It’s controversial because the Turkish government has always denied that it happened, both suppressing coverage at the time and later engaging in the proto-Trumpian logic that a genocide could not have possibly taken place during WWI because the G-word wasn’t even coined until WWII. And even if it did happen, it’s still fake news because you’re being totally biased by not giving both sides of the story, so you should really just stop talking about the million-plus Armenians who were slaughtered. Besides, other people died during the war, and don’t all lives matter? Intent to Destroy may not inspire many people to watch The Promise — which is currently streamable on Amazon — but at least The Promise allowed Intent to Destroy to be made.
Opens Friday at the Roxie Theater.