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Where Was The Promise (2016) Filmed?

August 8, 2020
4 min read

Co-written and directed by Terry George, whose magnum opus also includes Oscar-nominated ‘Hotel Rwanda,’ ‘The Promise’ is a historic drama that set in the backdrop of the Turkish Ottoman Empire. The film follows a love triangle that ensues between a medical student named Mikael (Oscar Isaac), a beautiful young woman named Ana (Charlotte Le Bon), and Chris (Christian Bale), an American journalist based in Paris. Along with that, the movie also addresses the century-old genocide on Armenians during the First World War. ‘The Promise’ is beautifully shot and has a scintillating vintage appeal to it. Due to this, one can’t help but wonder where its filming took place. Well, you’ll be surprised to know that none of its scenes were shot in Turkey.

The Promise Filming Locations

‘The Promise’ is actually based on an unproduced screenplay, titled Anatolia, which was written by Robin Swicord. Using the same screenplay, Terry George re-wrote an entirely original story that still had bits and pieces of the original. Terry George added new elements to it in such a way that it primarily focused on genocide instead of Mikael and his relationship with his family. After finalizing the script, George received a donation of $100 million from Armenian-American investor Kirk Kerkorian, who initially did not have any expectations from the movie.

However later, ‘The Promise’ became one of the most prominent and highest-earning movies covering themes of genocide. Soon after this, in June 2015, Christian Bale and Oscar Issac were cast as its leads while other cast members such as  Le Bon, Cromwell, Reno, Aghdashloo, and Giménez-Cachowere were involved sometime in September 2015. The filming of the movie was initiated sometime in Autumn 2015 and wrapped up in early June 2016. During this span, the movie was shot in several different locations of Portugal, Malta, and Spain.

Portugal

Lisbon was among the most prominent filming locations of the movie in Portugal. In the capital coastal city, the historic town of Sintra was doubled as Ottoman Turkey. The massive Moorish mansions, vibrant gardens, and parks of Sintra allowed filmmakers to easily depict the locations as Turkey. As confirmed by a local news source, the movie was also filmed in Lisbon’s National Museum of Natural History and Science and it cost the movie’s producers €5,000 a day to rent and shoot scenes in the museum’s Laboratory Chimico amphitheater.

Malta

As confirmed by the Maltese Film Commission, ‘The Promise’ was also shot in several locations of the Maltese archipelago. These locations included the Malta Film Studios, East Street, Villa Bologna, the National Library of Malta, and the old Fisheries area in Valletta. 

Spain

The third filming location for the movie was Spain which was purposefully chosen because of its aesthetic similarities with the Ottoman Mediterranean Empire. The main reason why Terry Geoge and the rest of the crew could not film the movie in Turkey was the Turkish Government’s denial towards accepting that the suffering of the Armenians during First World War’s genocide. Due to this, locations of Spain were recreated in such a way that they almost looked like Ottoman Turkey.

Like Portugal and Malta, the movie’s filming was carried out in many different locations of the Hispanic nation. Some of these included Toledo in Castilla-La Mancha, Albarracín and Calomarde in Teruel, and Valsain in Segovia. Other than these, the mining scenes of the movie were shot in Pulpí, Almería, Andalucía, while the beach scenes in Águilas, Murcia. Moreover, the scenes that depict the Courtyard of the Imperial College of Medicine were all filmed inside Hospital de Tavera, Toledo, Castilla-La Mancha and the Christian mission scenes have Abadía de Párraces of Castilla y León as their backdrop.

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