In the realm of cinema, directors often come across stories that are as challenging to tell as they are necessary. Oliver Stone, the acclaimed director known for his willingness to tackle complex and often controversial subject matter, revealed in his autobiography “Chasing the Light” a poignant intersection with such a narrative—one that remains relatively untold on the global stage.
Stone, who directed the critically acclaimed “Midnight Express,” encountered a unique proposition following the film’s release. He was approached by a group of Armenian-American investors with a proposal that was as lucrative as it was ambitious. They offered him what Stone describes as “a small fortune” to pen a screenplay for a big-budget film centered on the Armenian Genocide during the First World War.
The genocide, which led to the deaths of millions of Armenians, is a dark and somewhat obscure chapter of the 20th century. It’s a subject ripe for cinematic exploration, given its dramatic historical significance and the emotional depth of the human stories within it. Stone’s potential involvement could have brought a level of attention to the Armenian Genocide that it has seldom received in popular media.
However, Stone candidly admits his hesitation. Fresh from the experience of crafting a film set against the backdrop of Turkish political and penal system horrors, he felt unable to dive back into a narrative with similar geographical and emotional landscapes. “I couldn’t go back to another Turkish horror story,” he writes, expressing an understandable creative exhaustion after the intensity of making “Midnight Express.”
Stone’s decision shines a light on the emotional toll that directing deeply traumatic historical films can take on a filmmaker. It also underscores a broader issue within the film industry: the hesitation to confront certain aspects of history, particularly those as harrowing as the Armenian Genocide. The absence of major films about this event means that a significant historical tragedy remains little-known and insufficiently acknowledged.
This revelation in Stone’s autobiography not only provides insight into the director’s personal journey and choices but also raises important questions about the responsibilities of artists and the film industry. It prompts a reflection on the stories that are chosen to be told and those left in the shadows, and the factors that influence these decisions.
While Stone did not take on the project, his discussion of the offer hints at the possibility of such a film in the future. It serves as a reminder that there are still untold stories from history awaiting their moment in the spotlight, waiting for someone willing to chase the light into the darker corners of our shared past. The Armenian Genocide remains one of these stories, and Stone’s anecdote may yet inspire another filmmaker to bring this crucial narrative to the world stage, giving voice to the silenced and offering a lens through which we can better understand the complexities of our history.