Trailer for A PROMISE Takes Us on a Journey into the Past

The end of 2013 came with one of the latest trailers of the year, but certainly not the worst. Appearing online on December 29th, the first trailer for A Promise takes us back to early 1900s Germany, just before World War I. In this setting a romantic drama unfolds.

A Promise is based on the book Journey into the Past by highly celebrated early 1900s German novelist Stefan Zweig. Found as a complete manuscript buried amidst Zweig’s papers following his death, the novel was published posthumously, over thirty years later. More recently translated to English, the book has found popularity with English readers and became a well-received instant classic. French filmmaker Patrice Leconte’s adaptation has brought this beautiful story about love and loss to a wider audience, with a star-studded cast, gorgeous music, and clever direction.

An aging factory owner, Karl Hoffmeister (Alan Rickman) hires a young man named Ludwig (Richard Madden) to serve as his protégé. Hoffmeister comes to rely on Ludwig more and more, and he entrusts everything from secretary work to running the household to the young man. When things go better than expected, Ludwig takes on another role as his child’s tutor.

As the years unfold, passion flares up between Ludwig and Hoffmeister’s young bride, Charlotte (Rebecca Hall). They become close, but it takes a long time before they profess their love for one another. All too soon, Ludwig discovers that he must ship off to Mexico for two years on business, and both he and Charlotte are devastated and vow to love one another forever. However, two years stretches into many as the First World War breaks out, blocking intercontinental travel. Will their love last as they continue living out their lives from separate shores?

Despite the perhaps clichéd love triangle arrangement between the three big names on the cast, the film has a lot going for it. The passion between the different characters feels real, although it takes different forms between the different romances. The film takes care not to villainize one character over another and we see character flaws and strengths for each, allowing us to emphasize with both of the Hoffmeisters and Ludwig.

Perhaps confusing is the amalgam of languages and cultures inherently present in the film; based on a German novel, the film remains true to its German setting, but features English actors, and its French director is debuting the film for a French audience in April. Maybe it’s best if we don’t focus on this disparity.

A Promise is sure to please audiences looking for a historically-set romantic drama of the kind popularized by shows like Downton Abbey and Upstairs Downstairs, and it’s looking like one of the more promising films of the New Year. (Sorry.) Keep an eye out for the film in the spring or early summer of 2014 (no official English language release date has been set yet).

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The Author

Scott Huntington

Scott Huntington

Scott Huntington is a writer, reporter, blogger, and movie-geek. He currently lives in PA and with his wife and son, writing about movies and beyond. Follow Scott at @SMHuntington or check out his blog,