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A Mighty Heart(2007)
After her husband, Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl (Dan Futterman, Urbania), is kidnapped by terrorists, Mariane (Jolie) heads a desperate search for clues 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.
For more about A Mighty Heart and the A Mighty Heart Blu-ray release, see A Mighty Heart Blu-ray Review published by Ben Williams on March 19, 2009 where this Blu-ray release scored 4.0 out of 5.
Director: Michael Winterbottom
Writer: John Orloff
Starring: Angelina Jolie, Dan Futterman, Irrfan Khan, Denis O'Hare, Archie Panjabi, Will Patton
» See full cast & crew
A Mighty Heart Blu-ray Review
A harrowing tale of struggle and loss.
Reviewed by Ben Williams, March 19, 2009
When the body of The Wall Street Journal's South Asia Bureau Chief, Daniel Pearl, was discovered nine days after his kidnapping in 2002, much of the western world had recently been forced into recognizing the realities of Islamic terrorism, in the wake of the events of September 11th, 2001. Mr. Pearl's brutal murder sparked nearly universal outrage, as well as an outpouring of support for his Widow, Mariane Pearl, and the couple's unborn child. Mrs. Pearl soon dropped out of the spotlight, only to return in 2003 with her written account of the shocking events that transpired between Mr. Pearl's kidnapping and eventual murder. A Mighty Heart, the film version of her story, recreates these startling events through Mariane's eyes; demonstrating for the world the horrors that she endured during those fateful nine days in 2002.
Journalist Daniel Pearl (Dan Futterman) and his pregnant wife, Mariane (Angelia Jolie), travel to Pakistan in early 2002, investigating potential links between shoe-bomber Richard Reid, Al Qaeda and Pakistan's ISI intelligence agency. On January 23, 2002, a mere day before the couple is scheduled to leave Pakistan, Pearl vanishes into thin air on the way to interview a radical Muslim Sheik. After hours of not answering his phone and not checking in, Mariane begins a fruitless search for Daniel, hopelessly attempting to gain assistance from local police. When a series of terrorist hostage videos featuring Daniel surfaces, she finds herself caught between FBI investigators, Pakistani authorities and a bureaucracy that limits her access to information and stifles her attempts at assisting the authorities' efforts; all taking place as she becomes the central figure in the biggest international news story of the year. Mariane endures virulent anti-Semitic hatred, repeated accusations of being an American spy and the constant agony of being forced to witness her husband's image on every television station, as his life is threatened and demands are issued. Mariane's strength and courage is repeatedly tested on a minute-by-minute basis; she keeps up appearances and fights for Daniel's life. Nine days later, Mariane discovers that her wish is not to be; Daniel has been killed and their unborn child will never meet his own father.
A Mighty Heart is a painful film to experience. Daniel Pearl's kidnapping and murder were in constant rotation on every news channel imaginable back in 2002; the story was horrific and the images of his grieving, pregnant wife proved to be haunting to many. By telling the story through Mariane's experiences, the film provides a new perspective on the events of the kidnapping, while never actually showing Mr. Pearl's own struggles with his captors. A Mighty Heart exists entirely through the eyes of Mariane Pearl; her conversations, private moments, public statements and struggles are shown precisely as she would have experienced them at the time.
There are many effective supporting performances in A Mighty Heart, but the film is, without a doubt, an Angelina Jolie vehicle. She appears in almost every scene in the film; the tremendous emotional weight of the subject matter rests squarely on her shoulders. She creates a complex character whose strength shines through her obvious pain. With a lesser actress, the role could have easily fallen victim to over-acting and melodrama.
A Mighty Heart is a very difficult film; one that is bound to unearth unpleasant memories for those who followed Daniel Pearl's kidnapping back in 2002. While I wouldn't call it a great film, it's perfectly acted and devastatingly effective. More importantly, it serves as an important reminder to the barbaric events that took Mr. Pearl's life seven short years ago; events that, for many, are too quickly forgotten.
A Mighty Heart Blu-ray, Video Quality
Shot on digital video with an intended look that can only be described as "gritty," A Mighty Heart arrives on Blu-ray courtesy of an accurate 1080p, AVC Mpeg-4 transfer, that maintains the movie's original theatrical aspect ratio of 2.35:1. A Mighty Heart will probably end up being somewhat of a controversial release on Blu-ray; the photography is noisy and an extensive amount of artificial grain has been utilized. In addition, the picture is practically monochromatic throughout the film, resulting in a nearly sepia-tone look.
Given the heavy amount of grain/noise, A Mighty Heart lacks a great deal of fine detail. Some shots do clear up a bit, but the majority of the movie takes place in darkened settings that amplify the already ample noise. Given the aforementioned monochromatic quality of the picture, any judgment of color accuracy would be pointless. In spite of these potential issues, I believe that A Mighty Heart accurately represents the intent of the filmmakers, much like the oft maligned Blu-ray of Miami Vice, a film with a similar visual style. A Mighty Heart just wasn't ever intended to be conventionally pretty, a factor that elevates this presentation considerably, earning the title an easy recommendation.
A Mighty Heart Blu-ray, Audio Quality
There's a lot to like about the soundtrack to A Mighty Heart; it's an effective exercise in efficient sound design that manages to move the story along while keeping viewers' attention firmly in the action. Presented in 5.1 Dolby TrueHD, the source material is presented as accurately as possible, never missing a beat.
Dialogue is of primary importance in A Mighty Heart; it's delivered intelligibly from the center channel and never dissipates into static or hard to decipher passages. Rear surround activity appears sporadically throughout the film, adding a nice sense of ambience to the proceedings. While A Mighty Heart isn't groundbreaking or particularly exciting, this Blu-ray does its job admirably. Recommended.
A Mighty Heart Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Here's what's included:
- "A Journey of Passion: The Making of A Mighty Heart"
- "Committee to Protect Journalists"
- Public Service Announcement for the Pearl Foundation Featuring Christine Amanpour
- Theatrical Trailer
A Mighty Heart misses the mark where supplements are concerned. Instead of taking the opportunity to present featurettes and documentaries dealing with the life of Daniel Pearl, his kidnapping and the impact it had on foreign correspondents, the war on terror and the public, Paramount has, instead, chosen to include a couple of rudimentary EPK-style featurettes, a short public service announcement and the film's theatrical trailer. I can appreciate the need to spread the word about the Pearl Foundation and I certainly appreciate the trailer being presented in high definition, but there's so much more material that could have made this a truly involving collection of extras. Unfortunately, that's not to be. This is a seriously disappointing selection of special features.
A Mighty Heart Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
A Mighty Heart is a painful and relentless film that chronicles Mariane Pearl's heartbreak and tenacity in the face of the kidnapping of her husband, Daniel Pearl. The film attempts to dramatize actual events, succeeding at presenting the confusion and paranoia that plagued efforts to locate the missing journalist. Paramount presents an admirable video transfer of challenging material and audio that does its job well. The film's supplementary features, however, are an almost total waste of time. Not for the squeamish, A Mighty Heart is a compelling film featuring outstanding performances and impossibly distressing circumstances. Recommended.
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A Mighty Heart Blu-ray, News and Updates
• A Mighty Heart and Things We Lost in the Fire Detailed - February 25, 2009
Paramount Home Entertainment has announced the technical specs and special features for the upcoming Blu-ray releases of 'A Mighty Heart' and 'Things We Lost in the Fire', which are both due to hit store shelves on March 24th. The previously announced Blu-ray 'Kite ...
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