A MIGHTY HEART
Release Date: June 22, 2007
Audience: Older teenagers and adults
Runtime: 100 minutes
Distributor: Paramount Vantage
Director: Michael Winterbottom
Executive Producer: None
Writer: John Orloff
Address Comments To:John Lesher
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The movie begins on the last day that Mariane saw her husband alive, Daniel, in Kurachi, Pakistan. Mariane is pregnant with their son, Adam, so they are about to leave the country. Daniel has agreed, however, to meet a notorious sheikh who may have known Richard Reed, the shoe bomber. Everyone advises Daniel to meet the sheikh in a public place.
When Daniel doesn’t return from the alleged meeting, Mariane and her friends, including a couple journalists from India, alert the authorities. Within 24 hours, the U.S. Consulate and the Pakistani authorities are mobilized to find out where Daniel is being held and rescue him. The terrorists make impossible demands that cannot be met. They accuse Daniel of being a CIA spy.
As the days pass and the local police track down some radical Muslims connected to the kidnapping, Mariane tries to remain calm and hopeful. A Buddhist, Mariane finds strength in meditation. Things get more harrowing when the terrorists learn that Daniel is Jewish, even though he is not a religious man.
Based on the book by Mariane Pearl, A MIGHTY HEART is as restrained as Mariane’s composure. It is a matter-of-fact docudrama that tells the historical events in a straightforward manner that is not sensational. Even when Mariane finds out her husband has been murdered and beheaded, the camera hangs back as the poor woman vents her grief with excruciating screams of pain.
The violence depicted in the movie is also restrained, but there is a briefly implied sex scene between Mariane and Daniel in a flashback. The movie also contains plenty of strong foul language, which is why the movie gets an R rating. In the end, despite the rough and problematic content, including the references to Mariane’s Buddhism, the humanity of the characters shines through. Also, the movie makes it clear that Islamic fascism is a danger not only to all non-Muslims everywhere, but also a danger to all Muslims and Muslim countries that might want to live in peaceful co-existence with their neighbors. Thankfully, the movie avoids the harsh politics of the ideologues who want to blame America for all Islamic terrorism. Here, the terrorists and their petty hatreds of other people are to blame.
Of course, since the movie is based on Mariane Pearl’s book, A MIGHTY HEART reflects Mariane’s Buddhist worldview, which is more humanist than religious. In Buddhism, the believer is supposed to withdraw from their desires and other emotions. The movie unintentionally suggests that this may be why Mariane could remain so calm throughout most of her harrowing ordeal. In the end, however, her Buddhism does not seem to offer her the kind of comfort that one might find in Jesus Christ, who died for all of our sins and who offers to carry all of our burdens. Instead, a note at the end of the movie says that Mariane and Daniel’s parents have set up a foundation in Daniel’s name to promote cultural understanding through journalism and music, Daniel’s other love. This is a fitting tribute to Daniel’s life in one sense, but it reflects the shallow void that occurs when people don’t put their trust in God or Jesus Christ and His love.
It should also be noted that the movie suggests that, when Daniel suspected he was about to be killed, Daniel pridefully referred to his Jewish roots and his family’s connection to Israel. The movie depicts this reference as Danny’s way of spitting in the eye of his evil, merciless captors.
A MIGHTY HEART is based on Mariane Pearl’s book. Thus, the movie reflects her Buddhist worldview, which is more humanist than religious. Even so, the humanity of her character and her grief, and the very real dangers of Islamic terrorism, shines through as the movie unfolds. There is, however, plenty of strong foul language, so extreme caution is advised.