A Mighty Heart (HD DVD)

Cover Art and Menus: 5/10
The cover reflects a little bit of what I say in my comments about the movie. It focuses on the wife of a kidnapped journalist, not on the journalist. I know when you have Jolie to slap on your cover it’s tempting, but it’s more like the whole thing is championing the wrong person.

The menu quickly shows some clips from the movie and then zips right to the navigation, like most HD DVD’s are doing these days. Not much to talk about really.

Features: 7/10

  • Journey Of Passion The Making Of A Mighty Heart – I can only stomach so much of the “oh the big star on the set was so giving and supportive, like a real person.” stuff. It’s nice to see the set and the crew and hear about how the movie was made, but a little less ego stroking would be nice. This is a very good extra in terms of getting to know the director and how they worked on the set, explaining how different it was compared to other bigger film sets. It’s worth a look.
  • Committee To Protect Journalists – It’s always good to learn more about a true story when a film maker deconstructs it to retell the story. This extra gives us a look at the Committee to Protect Journalists and their efforts to be available to journalists around the world who are persecuted for telling their stories. Danny Pearl is among hundreds of journalists in modern day who have been targeted for what they do and what they represent.
  • Public Service Announcement – Christiane Amanpour tells us that this is a true story about a college of hers and that journalists around the world are at risk along with the freedoms they represent.

The Movie: 8/10
A Mighty Heart is based on a story about an American journalist who was in Pakistan shortly after 9/11 following the story of “the shoe bomber” and Al Qaeda. He and his pregnant wife are portrayed as two established writers who live a much different lifestyle than the people of the country that surrounds them.
We get to see them have romantic moments discussing their baby as he rubs her belly. They have quiet, somewhat overly manufactured glances and snuggling. It appears to be a bit of charmed life and they are living their dream, until the unthinkable happens. She prepares for a dinner party while he goes on what is expected to be an interview, and then the well traveled journalists’ lives change forever.

I’m still not sure what to make of the truth behind their lifestyle, but we all know that movies have a way of turning things around just a tad here and there. At first I was convinced the young woman in the house with them was their gopher girl or assistant the way she is expected to ‘get them a car’, and is bustling to get them answers, details, etc., but it’s actually her house, and she’s his friend, not their servant. It’s one of many aspects of their life as a couple, and more about him, that pretty much slips to the side to give way for the wife’s larger share of the story.
The few opportunities we get to know Danny he seems driven, sincere, and maybe a little bit naive about how his journalistic pursuits might be misconstrued with the climate of that part of the world at that moment in time. The problem is, that’s about all I got out of the movie about him. I’m not trying to be disrespectful, this is a true story and the horrific details are almost unimaginable, however, this movie is based on the wife’s book. It’s her account of events, her side of the ordeal, so at times it really gives me that sense of being sold a martyred wife’s tale, and not the story of how a young man lost his life.

The way Mariane is written and portrayed shows that she’s strong and tough and independent and all that, but when I digest the whole of the movie, she comes off as the one who suffered. Come on people. She’s comfy cozy in a big house with tons of FBI agents, police, friends, contact with the rest of the world….while her husband is being tortured and terrorized. It’s fair to tell the story of a wife living through such an ordeal. I feel guilty that I thought of the real wife behind the scenes, soaking up the attention, being the poor widow…I KNOW, I’m awful. I have to say it like it is.
The film is well made and tells the political side of the story very well. I got some sense of how different it is in other parts of the world to combat or even just deal with such strong beliefs and people who are willing to go to lengths like kidnapping and murder to make their point. If more of the film had focused on the hunt for the offenders, more about the victim, (the wife is not the victim in my opinion), even more about the culture they were living in I think It would have had more of an impact.

On a brighter side, Angelina Jolie does a good job. She holds her French accent pretty well and when it comes time to offer up some subtly rather then a standard Hollywood big shining star performance, she’s actually lovely to watch. I’m not a fan of Jolie, so this is coming from a place deep inside my brain where only a very few hard and fast opinions I have formed about certain things can be changed.
Since she is in almost every scene, nearly every frame of the movie, it’s hard to find other things to talk about, but I’ll try. The style of the movie completely pulled me in from start to finish. It’s not glossy and polished, but almost a fly on the wall feeling at times. We are in the middle of most of the action sequences, and the more personal scenes are up close, personal, but often from a different point of view than we are used to seeing in a feature film these days.
The locations are not fabricated. We get real bustling city life in India and Pakistan. It’s beautiful and intimidating at the same time. I thought about these two people living there, out of their element, but appreciating the culture unconditionally.

There are a lot of things to like about this movie. It’s got elements of honesty and reality that elevate it, while at the same time the focus on the wife overshadows a young man’s devastating ordeal. If it were simply a fictional look at how a woman might cope with such a circumstance, that would have been a whole different thing…..I can’t explain why, but some of you will know what I mean. I want to believe the Mighty Heart is meant to be Danny Pearl, but the movie doesn’t make it seem that way.

Video & Audio: 8/10
A Mighty Heart is presented on HDDVD in 2.35:1 aspect ratio and looks amazing partly due to the fact the movie was digitally filmed on the new HD HDD cameras made famous by Mr. George Lucas. While the film isn’t a showcase for the HD format as its mainly produced in a documentary style which looks far from perfect in terms of lighting and tone it is impressive and a step up over the standard release which we also took a look at. Audio is well handled with deep bass and some subtle dialog in the rear speakers which really bring you into the piece.

Value: 6/10
I think this is a rental for a lot of people. It’s not something I would watch again. I can research the details of Danny’s story out in the real world. If you want to watch Jolie give an excellent performance, and you have to collect her every twitch in the movie world, well go for it.

Overall Score 7/10