A Mighty Heart (2007)

Genre(s): Drama / History / Thriller
Paramount || R - 100 minutes - $29.99 || October 16, 2007
Reviewer: Elyusha Vafaeisefat || Posted On: 2007-10-16

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.:: F I L M ::.
The Film

.: F E A T U R E S :.

Special Features

A U D I O &
.:: V I D E O ::.

Audio and Video

.:: O V E R A L L ::.
Director: Michael Winterbottom
Writer(s): Mariane Pearl (book), John Orloff (screenplay)
Cast: Dan Futterman, Angelina Jolie, Archie Panjabi, Mohammed Afzal

Theatrical Release Date: June 22, 2007

Supplemental Material:
  • A Journey of Passion: The Making of A Mighty Heart
  • Commitee to Protect Journalists
  • Pearl Foundation PSA

Technical Information:
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Widescreen (2.35)
  • English (Dolby Digital 5.1), French (Dolby Digital 5.1), Spanish (Dolby Digital 5.1)
  • Subtitles: English

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.::THE FILM::.

The subject of 9/11 and post 9/11 events has still been a subject that many filmmakers have tried to stay away from. This is for the obvious reason that the events are still fresh in people's minds and the subject matter will always be sensitive. Director Michael Winterbottom has taken a different approach with A Mighty Heart being his third film to cover or be based around the events of 9/11. He first began with In This World which covered Afghan refugees and later directed the controversial Road to Guantanamo. Winterbottom's approach to his 9/11 stories is more on the documentary style versus the Hollywood style of filmmaking that we saw with World Trade Center. He almost always uses lesser known actors and handheld cameras which give the story a much more realistic feel. With A Mighty Heart, Winterbottom continues this method filmmaking.

By now, almost all Americans are familiar with the Daniel Pearl story. The news covered the events almost 24 hours a day back in 2002. It is no doubt a story that is very emotional and difficult to tell. For the film, Winterbottom decides to center the story on Pearl's wife Mariane (played by a hugely miscast Angelina Jolie). It is quite sad that Angelina Jolie was cast as Mariane because I felt that she ruined the entire film. Her performance seems to be a page out of her Alexander performance where her accent was something between Transylvanian and possibly French. While Jolie has proven in some cases that she is a capable actress, I definitely believe that a role like this was much more suited for a lesser known actress or an actress who is capable of doing a convincing accent. Other than name recognition, the obvious reason for her being cast is that Brad Pitt was one of the producers on the film. I would be heavily absorbed into the film and then Jolie would come back on screen and it would ruin any intrigue I had because of her performance. This was quite unfortunate because I felt that the other actors in the film did a marvelous job with their respective characters.

Danny Futterman gives a very convincing performance as Daniel Pearl. Futterman has mostly been a T.V. actor up to this point but he actually helped co-write and produce the film Capote for which he received an Oscar nomination. Indian actor Irfan Khan also turns in a fantastic performance as Captain. Khan is one of the most well known actors working in India but is slowly making his way into American films such as A Mighty Heart, The Namesake and the newly released The Darjeeling Limited. Other fine performances come from Archie Panjabi (who is also making a name for herself as a great upcoming actress), the always solid Will Patton, and Denis O'Hare.

By the end, the story does seem to lose its power and emotion because ultimately, Winterbottom repeats the same scenes over and over. Other than some interrogation scenes and flashbacks, we never really leave the home where Mariane and the authorities work from. Because of this, we get almost a claustrophobic feeling which may have been what Winterbottom was going for. Still, I think this film is worth seeing for the great performances from the supporting cast and strong direction (for the most part) by Michael Winterbottom.


A Journey of Passion: The Making of A Mighty Heart runs about 30 minutes and as the title suggests, it deals with the making of the film. We see interviews with the cast and crew as they each talk about some of the challenges in telling this story. What I found the most interesting was the segment on the directing style of Michael Winterbottom.

Committee to Protect Journalists is an 8 minute look at the committee that was created to guard journalists from being captured or killed in the line of duty. We see interviews with journalists who talk about the fact that they are just as much at risk as soldiers when trying to tell their stories. I actually would have liked to see more on this topic since most people don't really know all the effort that goes into one story or even one photo.

Finally, there is a short Public Service Announcement by CNN's Christiane Amanpour for the Pearl Foundation.

The DVD also comes with a section of previews for Year of the Dog, Margot at the Wedding, Arctic Tale, Stardust and The Kite Runner.


The audio and video for the film were both typical, solid transfers from Paramount. Winterbottom's choice to shoot in digital obviously makes the picture quality not as great as possible but he and his cinematographer do a fantastic job of creating a documentary-like atmosphere for the film. The film rarely gives off the impression that it is only a $15 million film. The film is presented in 2:35:1 Widescreen and is presented in Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround in English, French and Spanish.


Winterbottom has created a film that is definitely worth seeing. With the exception of Angelina Jolie, the cast gives strong performances as they attempt to bring these real characters to life. The only problem is that Angelina Jolie is virtually in every scene of the movie so that "exception" is quite a big one. The DVD package is put together fairly well but I would have liked to have seen more on real life journalists, more on the real Daniel Pearl and maybe even a commentary.

Despite the sensitive subject matter, Winterbottom makes a docu-drama that shows the strength of Mariane Pearl but also shows the willingness and strong desire of the Pakistani officials to find and bring back Daniel Pearl to Mariane and her family. Because of this, A Mighty Heart is less about creating sides (in terms of "America vs. the world") and more about the willingness of people to help one another despite coming from different countries and cultures.