The tragic kidnapping and murder of Wall Street Journal’s Daniel Pearl shocked the world. Daniel’s wife Mariane told her perspective of the events surrounding the tragic event in her best selling book which has now been adapted into the film, “A Mighty Heart.”
“A Mighty Heart” unfolds like a tragic detective movie. Viewers will see the numerous attempts and angles used by the governments of the United States and Pakistan as well as other groups (of different nationalities and religions) to try to find the kidnappers and free Daniel. While no one motive was given for his kidnapping and horrific death, a number of potential motives were alluded to including the Wall Street Journal’s handing over of files and sources to the CIA (which mislead some to associate Wall Street Journal workers for CIA workers). However, the most striking potential motive seems to be Daniel’s Jewish religion. Daniel was not a practicing Jew and hid his Jewish affiliation while working in the Middle East. The film infers that Daniel made peace with his identity. He was proud to tell his captors that he is Jewish, his parents are Jewish, and his grandfather was one of the founders of B’nai Brack in Israel (his grandfather has a street named after him there). After this declaration, his captors dragged Daniel away and brutally murdered him.
Angelina Jolie gives another award winning, emotional performance as Mariane Pearl. The viewer quickly believes her performance as Mariane and identifies with her plight of trying to rescue her husband. Dan Futterman (“The Birdcage” and “Judging Amy”) gives a brief but convincing performance as Daniel. The supporting cast members also give strong performances throughout the film.
Filmmaker Michael Winterbottom is able to unfold this tragic true tale through strong performances, quick cuts, and hand held camera movements. Through his docudrama filmmaking style, the viewer feels as if he/she was there watching the events unfold. The film as well as the book is another reminder of the inhumanity that still exist in the world today and the courage of individuals to stand up and fight for justice.