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Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl was kidnapped and beheaded in 2002. The heart-rending video of his execution played for the world to see. Five years later, the tragedy comes to a harrowing life in Michael Winterbottom’s A Mighty Heart. Pearl was a journalist with a promising career, a wife, a baby on the way, with family and friends who loved him until one day in the cluttered streets and back alleys ofKarachi,Pakistan, Al-Quaeda terrorists plucked and devoured him.

Angelina Jolie melts into the role of Mariane Pearl, his journalist wife, who plays the part with equal amounts of courage and fragility. It is largely through her eyes, that the story is told and in consequence, the audience is thrust into the agonizing position of feeling what she feels, seeing what she sees with fleeting moments of hope and hours of dread. One feels like the mother of a kidnapped child, helplessly waiting by the phone as the police busy themselves combing through leads, reassuring the family that all will be well as the bad guys busy themselves moving the crime forward. The movers of the plot are offscreen. The Al-Quaeda terrorists who lurk in the Byzantine streets and politics ofPakistan move the plot and put Mariane Pearl in an intractable context over which she has no control. She is a victim, but a victim who maintains her dignity and inner strength in the face of what the worst the world has to offer.

The Making of A Mighty Heart Featurette interviews Archie, who plays her Indian Muslim journalist friend, say as much that the film is a triumph for strong female leads. As the plot moves to its inevitable end, it is the woman- Mariane Pearl, who cries but does not break down, who remains committed to the ideals of liberal cross-national understanding that she shared with her husband. “I am not terrorized. You can’t be terrorized,” Mariane tells a group of WS Journal reporters and Pakistani Intelligence agents at her final dinner inKarachi before leaving and giving birth to her son Adam. The hysterical screaming of childbirth comes minutes after the tortured screaming upon hearing of Daniel’s murder. Life is juxtaposed next to death.

A Mighty Heart presents a dramatically realistic depiction of that one fatal week in the life of Mariane Pearl. It is the terrorists who scapegoat America for their violence deeds as if pornography created serial-criminals. The DVD version also allows the viewer to watch the Public Service Announcement by Christiane Amanpour, CNN’s chief correspondent as she speaks of the dangers faced by journalists who like soldiers are in the line of fire by foreign governments and groups whose aim is to silence them and what they represent, which is the search for truth.

A Mighty Heart is a Paramount Vantage release and the DVD hits the street on October 16.


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