A Mighty Heart is a fine film, based upon the true story of the abduction and death of journalist Daniel Pearl. Pearl was based in Pakistan just after the events of 9/11. A Mighty Heart came out on DVD this week and thus I watched it last evening. Angelina Jolie plays the role of Pearl’s widow, Mariane. I have to believe that this is the best performance she has ever rendered in her illustrious, though brief, career. Like Jolie or not, on a purely personal level, she captures the character of Mariane with perfect emotion and real nuance. She is also surrounded by an excellent cast and a brilliant director. Jolie appears in almost every speaking scene in the movie so her role is demanding. The filming was done in less than a month and most of it in a small space with hand-held cameras. This is a beautiful film that serious adults should watch.

Daniel Pearl, as most of you know, was a Wall Street Journal reporter who was kidnapped by Islamic terrorists. After a little less than a month in captivity he was beheaded (the film shows nothing of these scenes at all) and dismembered by radical Islamists. Mariane was five months pregnant when Danny was abducted and has since had a baby boy, Adam. She now lives in France and works there to promote causes related to protecting and helping journalists in dangerous places. Danny’s captors are in prison in Pakistan and the mastermind behind his killing is in Guantanamo under U.S. supervision.

Mariane Pearl, a Buddhist, is an amazing woman of grace, beauty and great power. She headed the search for her husband and never lost hope during many arduous days and nights. When she realizes Daniel is dead she refuses to allow the terrorists to terrorize her personally. One of the most gripping scenes in the entire movie is the meal she celebrates with all of those who helped her in the search. She refuses to allow them to blame themselves for failing to secure Danny’s release and wonderfully blesses them with grace and courage. She is a woman of peace while she also remains courageous and intellectually sharp throughout. She is a strong woman that many modern women will rightly identify with powerfully. Danny, as most also know, was Jewish, but he did not practice his faith seriously. Before his death he proudly revealed his Jewish identity to his captors and thus showed an incredible courage in the face of his torturers and impending death.

Assisting Mariane in her desperate but determined search are several Muslims, including a personal Indian aid of Danny’s and a Pakistani police chief who reveals plainly why so many Muslims are strongly opposed to terrorism and kidnapping. Frankly, the film blows away many conservative, and even some Christian, stereotypes about Muslims, women and Pakistan. I recommend it very highly. It is not a political statement, for which I am grateful.

The DVD includes interviews with the actors and director that are also well done. Be prepared to be taken up into this gripping story, a story that will move you to think beyond your simplistic categories about the world and other religions.   

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