Monday, November 12, 2007

A Mighty Heart

We watched A Mighty Heart tonight, the film about Mariane and Daniel Pearl starring Angelina Jolie. The movie centers on the 10-ish days of Daniel Pearl's kidnapping and disappearance in Pakistan, beginning one day before he and 5-months pregnant wife Mariane are to head home.

This is not a date movie, y’all. And yet it is a love story. It is a political thriller. And yet it doesn't leave the viewer with an enhanced, detailed understanding of what was going on politically. It captures the palpable love between these two people. And yet it leaves me only slightly more informed of what made Daniel Pearl so lovable.

Which is why I think it tanked at the box office. It couldn't quite figure out what it was trying to say.

Was the point to show that Pakistani officials worked very hard to find Daniel, ie that there are good and bad in every country? That tolerance in the face of tragedy is the way to act? That here was an ordinary man who loved a woman who tragically lost him? I don't know. His parents and sister back home in the US seem to be footnotes to the story. They don't even get to wax lyrical about Little Danny as a boy or whatnot, anything that would illuminate and highlight all of the wonderful things that made Daniel, Daniel.

To be fair, it is based on Mariane’s book and therefore does indeed focus on her experience trying to find Daniel. That search--and Jolie's representation of Mariane's pain--are truly searing to watch and to feel. The movie absolutely made me shiver just thinking about what I'd be like should my husband go missing. It is chilling to contemplate that kind of fear and loss, to say the least, but beyond that visceral anguish, the movie never really touches on who Daniel was as a person beyond scene clips that show he loved his wife and was funny and honest. Perhaps the book does successfully move him beyond his public status as The Wall Street Journalist Beheaded by That Sheik, but the movie does not. Which is especially unfortunate because my sense is that that was precisely what Mariane Pearl--and by extension the fantastic-in-this-role Angelina Jolie--hoped to communicate.


Vigilante said...

What has intrigued me about the Daniel Pearl story was, what kicked it off? What story was Pearl after? I don't recall what it was. But at the time, it struck me as quite a edgy, perilous, if not reckless, quest.

E said...

Sadly, the movie didn't really make that clear either. What did happen is that it was a hoax to kidnap him. They told Pearl he'd be meeting Sheik Gilani, but they had nothing to do with him in reality. It was just a ruse to kidnap and kill Pearl. The movie did show him asking the diplomats and his friends on the ground about his upcoming meeting and taking heed of their advice that if he met the sheik in public he'd be okay.
Such a sad story no matter how you tell it.

Vigilante said...