FF82 - The Ottoman Lieutenant

Intro by Adam Pranica

During the production of the Ottoman Lieutenant the creative team reached out to Project SAVE, a Watertown Massachusetts based archive of photographs of the Armenian diaspora. The team was asking permission to use historical photos of Armenia that the archive owned for use in their film which was set in the early days of the Ottoman Empire’s entry into World War I. When Project SAVE vetted the film's financiers during the review of the request, they determined that they were untrustworthy and declined to grant the use of their archive. And: Good job by them because when you work anywhere that serves to recognize the Armenian genocide you better expect that every time you pick up the phone it is going to be some crank on the other end. Better to just let it go to voicemail.

In watching the film, the scene that was to make use of the requested photos is fairly obvious because the photos they were able to obtain for the film are compressed and digitally lossy like they raided the Creative Commons Image Library for whatever they had and then hit transform in Adobe Photoshop. We must speculate that many of the actors and the director of today's film regret not having vetted the producers themselves because while Eastern Sunrise Films has a track record of fairly large-scale productions in Turkey, it is clear in retrospect that this film was conceived of and pushed into production specifically to undermine a film we reviewed previously on Friendly Fire: The Promise.

Director Joseph Ruben is contractually barred from speaking negatively about the film despite edits done by Eastern Sunrise after he finished working on it and his silence speaks volumes. It is the pleading the 5th of Press Junket answers and not a good look. And it is clear the producers deceived the people who made the film in service of a larger deception to supplement the misinformation surrounding the Armenian genocide that the Turkish government continues to spread.

So why are we watching this for Friendly Fire? Well, we think it is important for people to familiarize themselves with what coordinated well-funded deception looks like. There are attributes of this film that are instructive and hopefully will help all of us detect such propaganda down the road a little better. Right, grandma and grandpa? Hey, let's turn off the news and watch a movie! As for the story, it intentionally bears striking similarities to The Promise, framing the action around a love triangle and actors performing in English to make the film marketable to a Western audience, one of the fronts where this war on Armenians continues to be waged.

And while there are some clunky special effects and the script feels barely half-baked a lot of the filmmaking is admittedly impressive. This isn't a B movie. It had a budget and there were a bunch of famous actors in it. But where was your vetting team, Ben Kingsley? What is your excuse, Josh Hartnett? Lots of people came to Turkey and worked hard to make this film the best it could be, but those grainy JPEG-looking photos in the opening moments of the film betray what it really is: Not the real history, but the history that the producers wish were true and probably believe to be true, a history not borne out by the evidence, and the custodians of that evidence saw the producers for the dishonest actors they are.

Let's be honest with each other: Your name and your charm have carried you this far, but now it is time for you to prove yourself. Today on Friendly Fire it is turnfan69’s favorite movie The Ottoman Lieutenant.

Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License