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Historical movie The Promise filmed Spain as Turkey

The PromisePeriod movie The Promise is set during the fall of the Ottoman Empire at the outbreak of the First World War in 1914, but chose largely to film Spain as Turkey. 

The story charts a love triangle between Christian Bale's American journalist, Oscar Isaac's talented Armenian medical student and Charlotte Le Bon's sophisticated socialite who shares the student’s Armenian heritage.

While set against the backdrop of the war, the story also encompasses the Armenian genocide of 1915.

Director Terry George and his production team couldn’t take the shoot to Turkey, as the subject matter made Turkish filming problematic. 

The Turkish government does not formally recognise the Armenians’ sufferings of the First World War as genocide, which meant The Promise was an immediately divisive film.

“Most similar locations to recreate the Ottoman Empire Mediterranean look could be found in Spain,” says Denis Pedregosa, of co-producer Babieka Films, in comments to KFTV.

“This was pretty much a road movie. It took the locations department at least five months to find the locations all over Spain, Portugal and Malta.”

The narrow streets of Maltese capital Valetta stood in for exteriors of Constantinople – which became Istanbul in 1923 – and locations in Spain were used as the city’s indoor markets.

Spain’s production profile has grown since the country launched its first formal filming incentive and its historic cities have hosted HBO’s fantasy Game of Thrones over the show’s last two seasons.

Turkey has hosted major international productions in recent years, including action scenes for James Bond movie Skyfall, but the country’s political instability is likely to affect its appeal to producers.  

Images: Jose Haro/Open Road Films/Survival Pictures

 



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