Tulsa TV Memories      

Angelina Jolie in "A Mighty Heart"

GARY CHEW/Sacramento

I'm not sure if it's cool to quote oneself, but I'm going to here to make a point. Early last December, I wrote a review about "Children of Men." It began this way:

"I've always felt that the most beautiful sound in the world is the laughter of children at play. However, after seeing Alfonso Cuarón's new film, "Children of Men," that's changed. Now, it's guns...falling silent in the wake of the sound of a crying infant."

By now, I hope you've seen Cuarón's movie and that you will now see another film soon to open that has as compelling a scene as the one I allude to above:

Angelina Jolie

Angelina Jolie

She hurries outside away from the others to the edge of the patio. Consumed in rage and shouting "fuck" over and over, she tries to keep the news from sinking into her brain that her husband has been kidnapped. Her name is Mariane Pearl. She's six months pregnant and her husband's name is Danny. He's the South Asia bureau chief for the Wall Street Journal researching some information on the shoe bomber, Richard Reid. Mariane turns around and realizes that a small Pakistani boy, aware of her pain, is sitting close by on the patio floor. As their eyes meet, her face changes into the most beautiful and genuine smile that one could ever imagine. Awash in grief and anger, the boy's presence has made her happy---instantly! All this time and I didn't know tears could come to my eyes so quickly.

This is a real story that happened in early 2002 and is taken from the book, A Mighty Heart: The Brave Life and Death of My Husband Danny Pearl by Mariane Pearl and Sarah Crichton.

I have only one complaint with the film. Subtitles should have been used to clarify some of the natural accents for parts of the English dialogue. "A Mighty Heart" is so well done and moves with such smart speed, I found it difficult to hear a few important phrases and responses. I'm sure the DVD, when released, will contain that option for us who aren't adept at listening through accents for meaning.

Brad Pitt, Angelina Jolie's partner, is a producer of the film, and I found "A Mighty Heart" to be crafted much like "Babel," the fine 2006 film in which he was cast. In fact, "A Mighty Heart," as did "Babel," requires the viewer to stay focused in order to keep up with the story. But unlike "Babel," "A Mighty Heart" is told sequentially with quick flashbacks that relate aspects of Pearl's unknowing walk into his capture and ultimate execution by terrorists.

Archie Panjabi

Archie Panjabi

Curiously, the film is also a bracing police action as the Pakistani authorities and agents of the US seek to find the thread that will take them to Pearl's whereabouts while he's still alive. The various characters among the team of investigators are superbly played and make as strong an impression as the actors at the top of the bill: Jolie as Mariane, Dan Futterman as Pearl and Archie Panjabi as Asra, Mariane's staunchest supporter and aide. Ms. Panjabi is a striking actor and is likely to be cast in more films for her fine performance in "A Mighty Heart."

Michael Winterbottom ("Welcome to Sarajevo") is the director who also wrote the screenplay with Laurence Coriat and John Orloff.

It's likely that "A Mighty Heart" will be categorized by some as being pro this or pro that, or anti this or anti that. How could a film about such a horrific and volatile event not be? However, I found it not to be pro or anti anything, although the film threads its way in and through an overwhelming cultural, religious and political conflagration that still rages.

That's why I began this with the "Children of Men" quote then segued to the patio scene of Mariane Pearl enraged, then, in a heartbeat, smiling at a small Pakistani boy whose mother scrubs the floors of the building where Mariane is staying while the hunt goes on for Danny. The child has dark skin. He's a little boy innocent of the barbarity about him. He is precious. Precious to anyone whether that anyone is a Christian, a Jew, a Muslim, a white person, a black person, a secular woman or a fundamentalist man; even whether that anyone believes acting out as a suicide crowd bomber is necessary or totally heinous. I wondered to myself what that little boy in that movie would be doing with his life in about 10 to 12 years time in a part of the world he didn't choose to find himself.

Since "A Mighty Heart" is the story of Mariane Pearl and her belief in the integrity of her husband, what she says, I think, tells much more than what anyone else can write about its meaning.

"In his work, Danny struggled to keep free of dogma and alliance. He didn't represent a country or a flag, just the pursuit of truth. He was there to hold up a mirror and force people to look at themselves. What better way is there to respect humanity?"

Daniel Pearl: Journalist.

Preview "A Mighty Heart"

"A Mighty Heart" official site.
Opens June 22 nationwide.
Watch Yahoo Movies  for Tulsa theaters & times.
Gary Chew can be reached at garychew@comcast.net
Copyright © 2007, Gary Chew. All rights reserved.

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