A MIGHTY HEART (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)

March 9, 2009 by  

A Powerful and heartbreaking film.   A wonderful performance by Angelina Jolie.”

Images courtesy of  © 2009 Paramount Pictures.  All Rights Reserved.


DURATION: 108 Minutes

BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition, Dolby TrueHD: English 5.1, French and Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1

RATED: R (for Language)

COMPANY: Paramount Home Entertainment

RELEASE DATE: March 17, 2009

Directed by Michael Winterbottom

Screenplay by John Orloff

Based on the Book by Mariane Pearl

Produced by Brad Pitt, Dede Gardner, Andrew Eaton

Director of Photography: Marcel Zyskind

Production Designer: Mark Digby

Editor: Peter Christelis

Costume Design by Charlotte Walter

Co-Producer: Anita Overland

Music by Molly Nyman and Harry Escott

Casting by Wendy Brazington


Angelina Jolie as Mariane Pearl

Dan Futterman as Daniel “Danny” Pearl

Archie Panjabi as Asra

Irrfan Khan as Captain

Denis O’Hare as John Bussey

Mohammed Afzal as Shabbir

Telal Saeed as Kaleem Yusuf

Demetri Goritsas as John Skelton

Zachary Coffin as Matt McDowell

Gary Wilmes as Steve LeVine

Saira Nasir Khan as Nasrin

Aliya Khan as Kashva

Academy Award Winner Angelina Jolie (The Good Shepherd) “gives one the most commanding and moving performances of her career” (Richard Roeper, Ebert & Roper) in this shocking true story based on Mariane Pearl’s best selling memoir.

After her husband, Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl (Dan Futterman, Urbania), is kidnapped by terrorists, Mariane (Jolie) heads a desperate search in a frantic race against time to locate her missing husband.  Directed by maverick filmmaker Michael Winterbottom (The Road to Guantanamo), A Mighty Heart is a gripping story of faith, hope and courage in the face of tragedy.

A powerful and moving film that is based on a shocking true story…

“A MIGHTY HEART” is based on the best selling memoir of Mariane Pearl about her love of her husband Daniel Pearl, leading to the week of hell she endured when he went missing after purusing an interview in Pakistan, the race against time to find Pearl and his death and what took place after her husband’s death.

Daniel Pearl, a Wall Street Journal South Asia Bureau Chief and his wife Mariane, a French journalist who was six months pregnant at the time, were based in India but left to Pakistan the day after 9/11.

Daniel and Mariane were a loving couple.  Mariane was six months pregnant and he had a name picked out for their child named Adam.  Staying with Mariane was a Wall Street Journal correspondent Asra Nomani (played by Archie Panjabi) who was working on her book but it was a big day for Daniel.  Daniel Pearl  was investigating a story into the allege link between Richard Reid (the shoe bomber), Al-Queda and Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) and he was about to have this big interview with Sheik Mubarik Ali Gilani.

As a journalist, Pearl knew the risk of the stories he was covering and he did what he could using his resources to make sure that he asked his sources their thoughts of the interview and if interviewing Sheikh Mubarak Ali Gilani would put him in danger.  His sources have told him as long as he is in public, at the village restaurant in Karachi, he should be fine.

But obviously, things were not fine.  Pearl was kidnapped by the militant group, the National Movement for the Restoration of Pakistani Sovereignty on January 23, 2002.

Meanwhile, his wife who awaited for him to come home becomes worried and she contacts the American consulate and the Wall Street Journal that her husband has not returned and he is missing.

Not long after, the US receives demands from the militant group claiming Daniel Pearl was a CIA agent and in return, they want all Pakistani terror detainees released and all halted U.S. shipment of F-16 fighter jets to be given to the Pakistani government.  The group also gave the US 24 hours to meet their demands or else Daniel Pearl would be killed.

Assisting Mariane was Daniel’s friend (and Wall Street Journal correspondent) Asra Nomani, a Pakistan investigator named Captain, staff from the Wall Street Journal and the FBI.  They know that time is short and they must find out who has kidnapped Pearl but they must start from the e-mail that was sent out to the US and from there, track down who sent the e-mail.

During the investigation, there were setbacks with false reports of Daniel’s death to even the Pakistani Interior Minister criticizing Daniel for going to the unknown (which Mariane tells him that it’s the job of a journalist).

The film shows how both Pakistan and Americans worked effortlessly going after lead after lead in trying to find Daniel. The Karachi police tracing down the IP address of the ransom e-mail and eventually leading them to Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh who was actually detained by former ISI Brig. Alijaz Shah who concealed the whearabouts to Karachi Police for  a week.  But the Pakistan government and Karachi police worked very hard to find Daniel Pearl.

And that is what “A MIGHTY HEART” is about.  The love between Mariane Pearl and her husband Daniel.  The investigation which brought Pakistani police and the FBI together and work diligently to find Daniel Pearl and then the horrifying day when the video of Pearl’s death was found and having to break the news to Mariane that her husband is dead.

But it’s the heart of Mariane that kept everyone together.  During the investigation and after.  One moment that I will remember is when a news reporter was interviewing her about her husband’s death but Mariane was quick to answer that although her husband died, ten other Pakistani’s were also killed and that everyone is mourning.

“A MIGHTY HEART” is one of those films that despite hearing the outcome from the news, it was about what took place during that week and the race to rescue Daniel.  The film was absolutely moving but yet so heartbreaking.


“A MIGHTY HEART” is a film that was originally shot in Digital and is featured in 1080p High Definition.  Picture quality was very good and you got taste of variety of colors from the film.  Ambers, blues, greens, etc.  If anything, it was the capturing of emotion of Angelina Jolie’s face as she dealt with her missing husband, being pregnant and just not sleeping.  It was important to have these emotions captured on film and eventually, Marcel Zyskind, the 25-year-old phenom cinematographer, did a great job.

As for audio, audio featured is Dolby TrueHD 5.1 and Dolby Digital Spanish and French 5.1.  The film is primarily a dialogue-driven film with some scenes featuring gun shots but overall, the film is entirely dialogue and everything comes out quite clear via your front channel speakers.


For the special features, the following are included:

  • “A JOURNEY OF PASSION:  THE MAKING OF A MIGHTY HEART –  Interviews with the cast and how the film was shot in sequence.  This allowed each talent playing their characters to start from the beginning and eventually grow with each other and experience the solemness together of Daniel Pearl’s death.  Each talent talks about their role in the film and how people were portrayed.  But most of all, for Angelina Jolie, to play a role of a woman who has been through a lot but to get it right and making sure that she does Mariane a great service of accurately portraying her.
  • Public Service Announcement – Pearl Foundation with Christiane Amanpour – Optional as a PSA to be watched before the film or on the special features, well-known journalist Christiane Amanpour talks about how many journalists are being killed by terrorists groups and pretty much to expose the problem that exists today.  But also promoting the Pearl Foundation (created by Pearl’s parents Ruth and Judea) in promoting cross-cultural understanding through journalism, music and dialogue.
  • Committee to Protect Journalists– A featurette about the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), an independent, non-profit organization that promotes press freedom and defends the rights of journalists.  If journalists are being kidnapped, CPJ assists by putting pressure on the country’s governments.   In Daniel Pearl’s case, in the featurette, because the CPJ’s building was affected during 9/11, they were unable to get into their offices at the time.
  • Theatrical Trailer HD – The trailer for “THE KITE RUNNER” in HD.

“A MIGHTY HEART” is a moving film that is full of suspense and Angelina Jolie’s performance as Mariane Pearl was well-done. But it’s the progress of events that transpired during the investigation and just realizing how brutal Daniel Pearl’s death was, it was absolutely shocking and to see Mariane’s reactions was just chilling.

How a woman who had suffered so much but yet remain strong for herself and for those who helped her try to find Daniel, was admirable and it showed how the Pakistani police were doing their best to find Pearl. To see Americans and Pakistani work together was inspiring.

The Blu-ray features the film in 1080p High-Definition, the cinematography was well-done and as mentioned before, the performances by Jolie and other members of the cast were well-done and quite emotional.

In the special features, we learn that director Michael Winterbottom spent a lot of time with Mariane, the Captain and investigators to make sure that he got their story of what happened that week and how people were reacting and adapt it to film.  But was the film accurate?

I recently read a Washington Times article written by Asra Q. Nomani, Daniel’s colleague (her character was played by Archie Panjabi), who was there with Mariane during the entire investigation about her thoughts of the film and it was a very interesting article because she pointed out problems that she had with the film.  The main problem for Nomani was that Daniel himself was cut out from his own story.  That the character she saw on film was “nerdy, bland and boring” and commented that the film featured a Danny, that was not the Danny she knew.

I pondered a bit about her thoughts of the film and I can understand where  Nomani is coming from.

Granted, the film focuses more on the softer side of Daniel and Mariane’s love, the investigation and things that have transpired before and what took place shortly after he was murdered. Unfortunately, the film was more about Danny’s abduction and murder but not about the man himself.  The man featured was a man in love with his wife and the storyline features those memories shared between the husband and wife.  Afterall, the film is based on Mariane’s memoir.  So, I can see why the film focused not so much on the journalist but with the scenes of Daniel, it was a man who cared about his wife and a man who was determined to do his job and even when captured, he did all he could to escape (several times).

Nomani also wrote that she hoped that the story would be about the unique team of law enforcement agencies, government officials and journalists of varying religions, nationalities and cultures that searched for him. I would also enjoyed to see that potential met on film. But the film wanted to centralize the storyline on Mariane, Asra, the Captain and few others involved in the investigation.  For the viewer to be accustomed with a few people and see how they react and work with each other.

In the end, I enjoyed the film and I really don’t know how much was dramatized for a good story but what I got out of this film was not about people showcasing their heroics or courage, it was more of watching a woman who tried to be strong for herself, having hope that Daniel would be found and hope that the investigators can find him in time.  If anything, people doing their jobs and a wife’s mentality at the time of wanting her husband to be alive.  Everyone wanting Daniel Pearl to be alive.

But as much as journalists who are covering news in risky situations, many will consider it as a job while many on the outside would look as a job too risky but the heroism lies in knowing that there are journalists who know the risks, know that there is danger but simply do their job to the best of their ability.  There are many men and women who have died by reporting the news in countries and getting the information out to the public.

As a journalist who will say they were just doing their job, the same can be said of a soldier to a police officer, who can say the same thing.  These people are risking their lives.  They may not think they are heroes but for many people, the life they put on the line for their job can be seen as heroic.    They may be ordinary people but the jobs they do, it’s important that these individuals know how much the public has gratitude for doing what they do.

Daniel Pearl should not be remembered by the grizzlyness of his murder, he should be remembered as a man who oved his wife and loved the life he spent with his wife and the love he had for his child.  A man who was proud to be Jewish.  A man who wrote many important articles.  A man who did his job and did his job well.

The film is a validation of Pearl as human being.  A validation of the love Mariane felt for her husband.  A validation for those who were involved in doing what they can to help find him.  And to me, that right there is “a mighty heart”.

“A MIGHTY HEART” is a moving film, its a suspenseful film.  And it’s a film worth watching!

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