and thereby passively permitting such inhuman actions."12medium of film cast atrocity stories as entertainment, leawhat he called "cheap sensationalism" and "the screen'sties."128Casting Auction of Souls as a commercial film with aderstood that its financial success would depend on its uscience, fending off charges of the exploitation of violehighlighting film's artistic and humanitarian potential. "Puten a distasteful thing," the filmmakers insisted, but "lectwhile both attract attention at the moment of reading ofades with time." Film, by contrast, offered audiences a lathem a realistic "reconstruction" of a "life history." Authetered in this new medium that backers hoped to legitimconstituted little more than "cheap entertainment."129 Sthority that stood behind the production, for althoughmercial rights, he credited philanthropic organizations andand incident has been carefully verified by Lord Bryce," r125 Michael Hammond and Michael Williams, eds., British Silent Cine2011), 6.126 Balakian, The Burning Tigris, 316-317.127 Extract from The Universe, November 7,1919; Erin Johnson, YMCA London Bridge, to GeneralFilm Renting Company, November 13,1919, TNA, HO 45/10955/312971/95. In an interview years later,Mardiganian recalled the exploitation she experienced at the hands of the producers and claimed thatthe depiction of atrocities was nowhere near the horrors she had actually experienced. Anthony Slide,Ravished Armenia and the Story of Aurora Mardiganian (Lanham, Md., 1997), 5-8.128 Slide, Ravished Armenia and the Story of Aurora Mardiganian, 15.129 According to Michael Paris, the film industry cooperated with the government during World WarI, producing propaganda and serious war films to gain legitimacy; Paris, "Introduction," in Paris, TheFirst World War and Popular Cinema, 1-4.130 Though Bryce "saw nothing objectionable in" the film, he claimed to have nothing to do with theproduction. Bryce to Mr. Shortt, n.d., TNA, HO 45/10955/31297/89. Slide, Ravished Armenia and theAmerican Historical Review February 2014This content downloaded from 22.214.171.124 on Mon, 01 Feb 2021 18:02:23 UTC All use subject to
72 Michelle TusanFor supporters of the Armteenth-century atrocity narportunity to reassert a commGladstone, the son of the late"create an army of Crusader(LNU), which had been set uthe public, supported public sfilm would bolster the LNU's cost of that sponsorship was cthe organization's cash on hArmenian message justified ment to showing Auction of Sand believed that "no one imation as between one religionThe possibility of reading abacts of state terror, howeversponsored by the LNU and etance. In the wake of the Amron a large crowd, killing unarlims against Christians threadelayed trial of Brigadier Gtroversy in the news and chtolerant empire that was nodeclared the controversy "an ahelp Britain's enemies by angereau lobbied the Home OfficStory of Aurora Mardiganian, 207.