Jewish brothers in Nazi-occupied Eastern Europe escape into the Belarussian forests, where they join Russian resistance fighters and endeavor to build a village in order to protect themselves and about 1,000 Jewish non-combatants.
On January 23, 2002, Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl is to fly from Karachi to Dubai with his pregnant wife, Mariane, also a reporter. On the day before, with great care, he has arranged an interview in a café with an Islamic fundamentalist cleric. When Danny doesn't return, Mariane initiates a search. Pakistani police, American embassy personnel, and the FBI examine witnesses, phone records, e-mails, and hard drives. Who has him? Where is he? There's also the why: because of U.S. abuse of prisoners at Guantanamo, because of a history of Journal cooperation with the CIA, because Pearl is a Jew? Through it all, Mariane is clearheaded, direct, and determined. Written by
After Angelina Jolie was cast as Mariane Pearl, she and the filmmakers came in for a great deal of criticism, since Pearl's and Jolie's racial backgrounds are not similar, and Jolie played the role wearing makeup that somewhat darkened her own skin tone. The casting reminded many critics of the time in Hollywood when it was customary to cast "ethnic" roles with white actors in makeup rather than using black, Asian, or Native American actors. During a promotional press event for the movie, Jolie responded to the criticisms by saying, "the idea is, if you ask Marianne, because she did address that... if you did actually want to find somebody that was her exact makeup, she's actually majority Dutch, and she's as black as she is Chinese, and she's Cuban, and she's French. So, it could have gone to many different racial backgrounds, probably, if you went technical on it." Pearl herself approved of casting Jolie; in Time Magazine, Pearl said, "I have heard some criticism about her casting, but it is not about the color of your skin. It is about who you are. I asked her to play the role - even though she is way more beautiful than I am - because I felt a real kinship to her." See more »
There is a travel prayer note hanging on the rear-view mirror of the taxi in which Danny goes to the Village Restaurant in January 2002. The note has a branding of "GMSA Glue", which was not launched until mid of 2004. See more »
[looking at a picture of her husband smiling while having a gun to his head]
He says "fuck you" to them.
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Telling the truth is generally considered to be the first step on the path to righteousness. It brings redemption to some and relieves the guilt of others. Many people have a hard time accepting the truth when faced with it. That difficulty in dealing is perhaps the main reason some run far away from the truth altogether. Given how troubling facing the truth can be in everyday reality, being subjected to it in celluloid on the big screen is a very hard sell. This is even more relevant when the film in question is based on an event that was played out to the point of emotional exhaustion in the media. (Just ask the producers of UNITED 93.) This is the plight of A MIGHTY HEART, an adaptation of Mariane Pearl's novel of the same name, about her experiences during the search for her kidnapped husband, Daniel Pearl, in the winter of 2002. For director Michael Winterbottom, this is only the beginning though. Assuming he manages to get people to see the film, (casting Angelina Jolie in the role or Marian Pearl certainly doesn't hurt the film's chances), Winterbottom must then get people to forget that they know how it's all going to end.
Winterbottom is too smart to go against the grain. Instead, he uses the audience's prior knowledge of the story to incite an even deeper emotional reaction. He begins by establishing his style. A MIGHTY HEART is not a documentary but rather a fictionalized reenactment of actual events that is shot and edited like a documentary. There are no talking heads but the camera is an active participant in the drama that unfolds. Hand-held movement, jump cuts and an omnipresent observer's point of view lend realism to the film's already tense premise. For those who aren't aware, Jewish-American journalist, Daniel Pearl (played here by CAPOTE scribe, Dan Futterman) was kidnapped in Pakistan in January of 2002. The violent act became an international scandal as the group that claimed responsibility for the crime demanded the liberation of prisoners from American detainee prison, Guantanamo Bay, in Cuba. The American government does not give in to the terrorists' demands. It doesn't end well. The film focuses on the efforts made by Mariane, the Pakistani police, the C.I.A. and the journalistic community throughout the search for Daniel. Knowing Daniel doesn't live through the ordeal and that this search is fruitless may leave the audience without hope but the dedication and fervor with which the case is attacked carries enough hope to inspire an overwhelming sympathy that sinks our hearts when what we know is coming actually comes.
A blustering soundscape and tightly framed street and crowd shots elevate stress levels to unimagined heights. Mariane is alone in a foreign country, searching for the most important person in her life. Knowing the odds are against her, holding on to hope becomes all the more complicated when she is surrounded by strangers, traffic and the sounds of incessant honking, cell phones and random farm animals. The chaos is absolutely inescapable. Yet still, Mariane must remain calm. After all, she is the heart of this operation. If her heart fails, all hope is lost and all efforts will fall apart. Jolie exhibits both outer strength and inner fragility at the same time as Mariane. She is direct and focused in face of this horrific reality, holding it together for Daniel, herself and her unborn child but Jolie's distant eyes and suddenly fidgeted demeanor suggest just how difficult maintaining all this composure truly is. Being a journalist herself, Mariane's most endearing quality is perhaps her ability to remain hopeful in spite of all the horror she has known in her own career without coming across as naïve. Jolie's balancing act upon such a tightly wound rope is truly genuine in both its intention and execution.
Any movie entitled A MIGHTY HEART cannot spend all its time entrenched in fact. After all, there is a delicate, growing love between Daniel and Mariane that is also being held prisoner. This love though cannot be held captive and gives life to hope. Their love comes back to Mariane in flashes throughout her suffering. Insignificant moments like the last time they saw each other take on new meanings, making the loss feel larger while still reminding her what she is fighting to find. The truth behind A MIGHTY HEART is that it takes one to live through something like this and, more importantly, live past it.
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