The Ar­me­nian tragedy re­lated

Los Angeles Times - - AT THE MOVIES - — Gary Gold­stein

Like the re­cent “Ar­chi­tects of De­nial,” the doc­u­men­tary “In­tent to De­stroy” is an­other strong look at how an es­ti­mated 1.5 mil­lion Chris­tian Ar­me­ni­ans were mur­dered be­tween 1915 and 1918 by the Ot­toman Em­pire (which be­came the mod­ern Repub­lic of Turkey), and why, a cen­tury later, the Turk­ish gov­ern­ment still does not for­mally ac­cept the facts of this heinous mas­sacre nor the use of the word “geno­cide.”

Direc­tor Joe Ber­linger uniquely ex­plores this com­plex, dis­turb­ing is­sue by em­bed­ding with the pro­duc­tion of “The Prom­ise,” Terry Ge­orge’s sweep­ing ro­man­tic drama set against the events of the Ar­me­nian geno­cide. Ber­linger then uses scenes, off-cam­era bits and on-set chats (with direc­tor Ge­orge, pro­ducer Mike Me­davoy and crew mem­bers) from that late-2015 shoot to help cre­ate a highly di­men­sional sur­vey of what Ar­me­ni­ans of­ten call “The Great Crime.” (“The Prom­ise,” which starred Os­car Isaac and Chris­tian Bale, opened in April to mixed re­views and dis­ap­point­ing grosses.)

The doc­u­men­tary, di­vided into three chap­ters (“Death,” “De­nial,” “De­pic­tion”), also fea­tures a wealth of archival footage and pho­tos, plus in­ter­views with ac­tor-writer Eric Bo­gosian, for­mer U.S. Am­bas­sador to Ar­me­nia John Marshall Evans, direc­tor Atom Egoyan (“Ararat”), and au­thors and pro­fes­sors, all of which adds ef­fec­tive in­sight into the geno­cide, its long­time cul­tural and geopo­lit­i­cal ram­i­fi­ca­tions, and Amer­ica’s thorny place in the mat­ter. It’s a mas­ter­ful ef­fort. “In­tent to De­stroy.” Not rated. Run­ning time: 1 hour, 55 min­utes. Play­ing: Pa­cific Glen­dale 18; Laemmle Play­house 7, Pasadena.

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