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Movie Review

A Mighty Heart

MPAA Rating: R for horror violence, some sexual content and language

Reviewed by: Maggie Hays
CONTRIBUTOR

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Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
Adults
Genre:
Drama, Thriller, War, History
Length:
1 hr. 40 min.
Year of Release:
2007
USA Release:
June 22, 2007 (wide—1,350 theaters)
Copyright, Paramount
Copyright, Paramount
Copyright, Paramount
Copyright, Paramount
Copyright, Paramount
Copyright, Paramount
Copyright, Paramount
Copyright, Paramount
Copyright, Paramount
Copyright, Paramount
Copyright, Paramount
Copyright, Paramount
Relevant Issues
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About Buddhism

Why I stopped following Buddha and started following Jesus Christ? Answer

About Islam

Paradise or Pain? Why is the world the way it is?
Why is the world the way it is? If God is all-knowing, all-powerful, and loving, would He really create a world like this? (filled with oppression, suffering, death and cruelty) Answer
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Fear, Anxiety and Worry… What does the Bible say? Answer

Couple in love. Photo copyrighted
What is true love and how do you know when you have found it? Answer

Featuring: Angelina Jolie, Dan Futterman, Archie Panjabi, Sajid Hasan, Aly Khan, Irfan Khan, Denis O'Hare, Will Patton
Director: Michael Winterbottom (“Tristram Shandy: A Cock and Bull Story,” “Code 46”)
Producer: Andrew Eaton, Brad Pitt, Dede Gardner
Distributor: Paramount

“It was an event that shocked the world. This is the story you haven’t heard.”

Here’s what the distributor says about their film: “On January 23, 2002, Mariane Pearl’s world changed forever. Her husband Daniel, South Asia bureau chief for the Wall Street Journal, was researching a story on shoe bomber Richard Reid. The story drew them to Karachi where a go-between had promised access to an elusive source. As Danny left for the meeting, he told Mariane he might be late for dinner. He never returned.

In the face of death, Danny’s spirit of defiance and his unflinching belief in the power of journalism led Mariane to write about his disappearance, the intense effort to find him and his eventual murder in her memoir A Mighty Heart: The Brave Life and Death of My Husband Danny Pearl.

Six months pregnant when the ordeal began, she was carrying a son that Danny hoped to name Adam. She wrote the book to introduce Adam to the father he would never meet. Transcending religion, race and nationality, Mariane’s courageous desire to rise above the bitterness and hatred that continues to plague this post 9/11 world, serves as the purest expression of the joy of life she and Danny shared.”

REVIEW

I believe you will be affected by this film, which has a “docudrama feel” to it. This is the true story of the kidnapping and murder of Daniel Pearl, American journalist in Pakistan after 9/11. His widow, Mariane (also a journalist), wrote her memoirs of the event and is convincingly played by Angelina Jolie. Even though we all know how things turn out, the movie is gripping early on and moves quickly.

Here is the “bad news” from a Christian perspective:

  • There is plenty of bad language here, which earned it it’s R-rating. I actually lost count of the “F” words. The Lord’s name is profaned several times.
  • There is one sexual scene of a married couple in bed, which is not graphic or prolonged, but children really need not view this—nor the rest of us for that matter.
  • There is one torture sequence when they are trying to extract information about Pearl from a prisoner. This scene is not graphic, and the torture is implied, rather than visible.

Here is what I, coming from a Christian world-view, especially found frustrating (or sad) about this whole story, although it is, of course, based on fact:

  • Mariane Pearl is a Buddhist, and she is shown chanting and practicing Buddhism in the movie.
  • Islamic praying and culture is vividly and repeatedly shown in the movie.
  • Danny Pearl was a Jew, but no adherence to Jewish religious beliefs or reliance on God are implied, in fact, at one point his wife states, “Danny is not a religious man.”
  • I could see so many opportunities in this kidnapping to call upon God and cry out to Him for mercy and deliverance, but this never happened and this hopelessness grieved me, causing me to leave the theater in tears.

My humble predictions for this compelling film:

  • It will make lots and lots of money.
  • It will win Academy Awards.
  • Angelina Jolie will walk away with the Oscar for her starring role as Mariane Pearl.

Violence: Moderate / Profanity: Heavy / Sex/Nudity: Mild

Paradise or Pain? Why is the world the way it is?
Why is the world the way it is? If God is all-knowing, all-powerful, and loving, would He really create a world like this? (filled with oppression, suffering, death and cruelty) Answer

See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.


Viewer Comments
Positive—“A Mighty Heart” is a gripping movie which puts a personal face on an international event. Christians and people of all religions should pay especially close attention to the death of Danny Pearl. It shows what can happen when religion is corrupted, and through the story of Marienne Pearl, it also shows our ability to transcend personal loss and tragedy and become better people. …
My Ratings: Better than Average / 4½
—Eric S., age 20
Positive—The film is powerful. Angelina was breathtaking in her portrayal of Mariane Pearl. It was a movie that I believe is worth seeing and experiencing. Angelina deserves to win an award for this film. Her performance was outstanding. I appreciated the accuracy of the setting of this film. I liked being brought into the culture of Karachi and experiencing the beliefs and culture of the people. …It is based on a true story, on true events and on the lives of real people. Maybe the Christian faith was not portrayed in the film, but that is because the actual people the film is about were not Christians. How can it be offensive to witness and experience people worshiping and living out their individual faith? It’s not the faith that I have chosen for myself as a follower of Christ, but if a movie happened to be made about me, I wouldn’t want my faith to be changed or altered. The writers needed to remain true to the story. I think that showing the different faiths made the story even stronger. …
My Ratings: Average / 5
—jessica, age 24
Neutral—This is a perfectly decent movie, made in documentary style, about the kidnapping and murder of the Wall Street journalist, Daniel Pearl, played by Dan Futterman. It focuses not on Daniel but on the resilience of his wife, Marianne (Angelina Joli), in the midst of a harrowing and terrifying ordeal, which ultimately led to her husband’s brutal murder. The movie alternates between Marianne’s agony and the frantic police search for Pearl. There is a terrific performance by Iffran Khan as the Pakistani policeman heading up the search.

Ultimately, however, for reasons not quite clear to me, the movie left me unmoved. Perhaps it was the rather cold direction by Michael Winterbottom or the fact that I do not find Joli a particularly sympathetic actress, in spite of her obvious good intentions. She seemed to be playing Marianne by numbers rather than having the grasp of the character. The other thing that nagged is whether Pearl put himself in unnecessary danger, especially as he had a wife five months pregnant. So three out of five stars for this one.
My Ratings: Offensive / 3
—Ken Edwards, age 60, United Kingdom
Comments from young people
Positive—This movie was extremely well done. I was disappointed to learn that Mariane was a Buddhist, and also that Daniel Pearl was “not a religious man.” As a Christian, I felt sad for these two as I watched the wedding scene in which Danny and Mariane married, not as a couple before God, but as two people wrapped in post-modern/New Age religion. Although almost everyone who watches this movie knows its turnout, it will still cause you to hope, hold your breath, grieve, and better understand the efforts that went into getting Danny back. Angelina definitely deserves an Oscar. Kudos to all who manage watching this with dry eyes!
My Ratings: Average / 5
—Marissa, age 17
Comment
I have not seen the actual film, but am familiar with the events surrounding the Death of Daniel Pearl, as well as I have read the book which is what the movie is based on. The movie is about to be released in my country sometime this week. I am a practicing Christian… I however think that the book is beautifully written and think that we are too narrow minded as christians. Not being religious doesn’t mean that the person doesn’t believe in God, it means to me that the customs and practices that binds us to tradition they do not take part in it or it doesn’t bind them. I also think that their love was real though not conventional. He respected her and loved their life together, they were happy people who despite of their differences were faithful to who/what they believed in. We are to be more open minded to different cultures and try to understand where an individual is coming from rather than being bashful…
—Free, age Spirited