A Mighty Heart (Not A review).. Thinking Blogger Award..
Sanjay at Karmically Speaking always has some interesting news, stories, sometimes funny and sometimes not, mindblowing poetry, and even some cooking.
I am supposed to nominate 5 other blogs that make me think. Here is my dilemma. Every blog that I read makes me think and brings something different to the table. Each of your blogs have their own unique signatures, which make it very difficult for me to pick just 5 blogs that make me think. I guess I am going to leave it at that.
A Mighty Heart
1 hr 43 mins
I had a chance to watch the movie “A Mighty Heart” last weekend. To those of you who may not be aware, this movie is based on the kidnapping and eventual murder of the Wall Street Journal reporter Danny Pearl and is based on the memoir by his wife and fellow journalist Mariane Pearl.
There is more about the movie here.
I have often wondered about how much a movie based on a real life story would grab my attention. For after all, the broad outlines of this tragic episode are well known along with some unanswered questions. I was therefore very curious about how this movie would work for me at a level that was different from say one of those quick made for TV movies that clutter up that wasteland.
I have to say that this movie succeeds in it’s objective in that it is an engrossing, riveting and a touching portrait of the central characters involved in the search for Daniel Pearl covering the frantic, tension filled days from just before his disappearance to his death. The film directed by Michael Winterbottom (Welcome to Sarajevo, 24 Hour Party People ,The Road to Guantanamo). The movie has been made/shot in a quasi-documentary style thereby giving it a very authentic feel and despite knowing how it will end it will it draws you in and you feel as if you are in the thick of things.
Things that I loved about the movie..
The casting is just perfect. Yes Angelina Jolie can act. I read a few stories questioning her being cast in the role of Mariane Pearl. I wonder if the naysayers were unable to look past the glamour and celebrity hoopla around her and they overlooked her potential as an actor. I thought she more than held her own, in fact she does an excellent job portraying Mariane Pearl with a quiet intensity and steel about her, yet one can see the anguish that churns within her. From certain camera angles, she looks very much like Mariane especially with her curls and the French accent (just don’t get caught up with her pillowy lips).
Dan Futterman plays Danny Pearl, and I thought this was one of the weaker points of the movie. Not to say Dan does not do a good job, he just is not as well fleshed out, but that is just my opinion. We get to see Danny Pearl mostly via flashbacks and I don’t think I got a real sense of him as much as I would have liked.
Archie Panjabi (Bend It Like Beckham, East Is East) is excellent as Asra Nomani, a colleague of Danny Pearl and it is her rented house in Karachi, Pakistan which serves as a nerve center for the search for Danny Pearl and is also the place where Danny and Mariane lived when they visited Karachi.
The Indian actor Irfan Khan, who was seen recently in “The Namesake” (as the CID officer Javed Habib, in charge of the Pakistani team trying to find Danny Pearl) does a splendid job. He conveys a whole lot with just a gesture, a look and his eyes, quite a powerhouse of an actor.
Will Patton (Remember the titans) plays Randall Bennett from the American consulate. I read reviews about him being this shady character who frequents the murky worlds that overlap diplomacy and intelligence. I did not quite get a sense of him as being that.
There are a host of other actors American, Pakistani and Indian who inhabit this movie and contribute to it to being a really good movie.
The movie has been shot on location in Pakistan (where most of the action unfolds), the US, France and India (Pune, India where they chose to shoot in a place called the Sindh colony where a lot of people who formerly lived in Pakistan (pre partition) live).
Those of you from Bombay might appreciate the scenes served in flashback of Mariane and Danny’s time in Mumbai (Bombay), India including those of landmarks like the Gateway of India and scenes of them on one of Bombay’s commuter trains.
I cannot emphasize enough how well shooting the movie on location in Pakistan works. In captures the crowds, scenes of the place very well. One can almost feel the sense of the place it slowly seeps in to you, for me having lived in India the place felt eerily familiar given that that country has its own substantial Muslim minority population and neighborhoods. I also tried to take a step back imagining myself as being in a foreign land such as Pakistan with the teeming mass of people some of them hostile to you because you are in some ways an infidel. I can imagine what it must have meant to be the “other” there and also the challenge of finding someone in a place that always feels as if it is about to erupt.
The police work and how they go about their jobs also felt very real, including the use of torture. There is one scene where not much is shown but it is rather chillingly obvious what it happening as the cops try to get information to try and rescue Danny.
There is a whole lot I can go on about as to why the movie felt so real but in the interest of keeping this post short and not boring you I won’t.
The movie does not feel exploitative or overtly sentimental. I thought it struck the right balance there. Despite this there are a number of scenes that will be gut wrenching to watch, including the one follows when Mariane is told simply “Danny didn’t make it”.
It is however not free of its amusing moments, including one where the authorities cut off the telephone lines of the neighbors so that they can provide more lines to Asra’s place while remarking that if the neighbors need to make a call they can always come by to Asra’s place.
The film conveys to us the pain, suffering and the loss endured by those affected by terrorism and the forces of religious intolerance and hatred. It also affords us a view of how hard this fight is going to be and that there are no clear cut military solutions. There have to be multiple approaches both by us and the forces of progress and reason in the Islamic world.
This representation of Mariane Pearl’s memoir also conveys to her message about peace, understanding and the need for a dialogue between these different worlds. The members of the Pearl family are already engaged in this process via the Daniel Pearl foundation (The foundation's mission is to promote cross-cultural understanding through journalism, music, and innovative communications).
Daniel Pearl’s dad Judea Pearl has been active in this, and I recall listening to both him and Akbar Ahmed on NPR (link), (Akbar Ahmed, a leading Islamic scholar born in Pakistan, joined Judea Pearl in cities all over the US, England and Canada to lead public dialogues about the divisions between Muslims and the West and between Jews and Muslims. Their discussions ranged from policy issues to theological perceptions to truth, lies and deepest fears. This personal yet public dialogue continues to carve a path for mutual understanding between the two communities. Click here for more information.)
Their commendable efforts I hope are not lost amongst the craziness and cry for blood that one often hears.
While I liked this movie there were other voices that thought it did not quite do justice to the memory of Daniel Pearl. One voice that does carry some weight is that of Asra Nomani, his former colleague (who now teaches journalism in Georgetown University's School of Continuing Studies). While I don’t completely agree with what she has to say, she raises some interesting points in her article in the Washington Post (*A* pointed out this piece to me, thanks!).
I would surely recommend watching this movie.