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A Mighty Heart

review by Zach B.

 

 

MPAA Rating: R (For Language)

Running Time: 108 minutes

Starring: Angelina Jolie, Dan Futterman, Irrfan Khan, Archie Panjabi, Will Patton

Screenplay by: John Orloff
Based on the book by: Mariane Pearl

Directed by: Michael Winterbottom

 

Studio: Paramount

Retail Price: $29.99

Features: Journey of Passion: The Making of A Mighty Heart, Committee to Protect Journalists, Public Service Announcement

Specs: 2.35:1 Anamorphic Widescreen, English Dolby Digital 5.1, French Dolby Digital 5.1, Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1, English Subtitles, French Subtitles, Spanish Subtitles, English Closed Captions, Scene Selection (13 Scenes)

Released: October 16th, 2007

 

 

"A Mighty Heart" is presented in 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen. This is a hit-and-miss transfer, but it's hard to criticize it given that this was a low-budget shoot, and what cameras were used. The image is pretty soft and quite grainy, and the scenes that take place at dark (there's a lot of them) come off as murky. There are edge halos, and a bit of noise to boot. Color saturation is pretty good, but nothing exactly stands out. Fleshtones aren't perfect in all scenes, but they do often hit their mark. The best element is detail, which comes off as quite fine - especially in the city streets. I do wish the transfer was a bit sharper and more refined, but then again, it does reflect the film's documentary-style shoot, and to an extent, the feel the filmmakers were probably going for.

 

The English Dolby Digital 5.1 track is stronger than I anticipated, with high fidelity and pretty impeccable dynamic range. Subwoofer use is decent, but what really counts is the characters talking, given this movie is a lot of chat. With that said, dialogue is remarkably crisp and very easy to hear, while Molly Nyman and Harry Escott's musical score is mixed appropriately and delicately through the channels, and it really adds to the movie's backdrop. There are some surround sounds, but they are often regulated to the front channels. There's nothing bombastic here, yet certain scenes - with guns that are clocked and people sneaking around - does add a lot of subtle tension.

5.1 Dolby Digital tracks are also available in French and Spanish, and there are subtitles in English, French and Spanish. English closed captions through your television are also available.

 

The major supplement here is A Journey of Passion: The Making of A Mighty Heart. It runs a half-hour and is presented in full screen, and covers the film's real life story (Mariane as a person, Danny Pearl's colleagues) and the gripping production. The interviews with Angelina Jolie, Dan Futterman, Archie Panjabi, Will Patton, Irrfan Khan and director Michael Winterbottom show just how passionate and committed everyone was to making this movie. I was very fascinated by the film's shooting style, particuarly the long takes and its low-key approach where there wasn't a lot of BS going around - just the cast and crew constantly working. There's also great insights by the actors as they talk about their roles and how they got into them, and (along with Winterbottom) what the story means. Very well done.

There's also a featurette on the Committee to Protect Journalists, in anamorphic widescreen and lasting nearly 9 minutes. Chairman Paul Steiger and executive director Joel Simon talk about the origins of the committee, and why it is so important - particuarly in foreign countries where there isn't always freedom of the press. Steiger, a former colleague of Pearl, talks about the 9/11 attacks and the story that ultimately led to Pearl's tragic murder. Simon also talks about Pearl's story, and its significance. Clips from "A Mighty Heart" are dispensed throughout. This is a very insightful, serious piece about very important issues that I hope many viewers will really take to heart.

Finally, there's a two-minute Public Service Announcement about the Pearl Foundation, featuring CNN's Christiane Amanpour. It really seems to serve as an introduction to the movie, and describes what the foundation is all about. Be sure to log onto www.danielpearl.org for even more information.

All these extra features are all excellent, but I wish there was more. Perhaps more on journalists? More on the real Mariane, and things that transpired following her husband's death? A commentary or two? Hopefully in the future this title will get re-released.

 

"A Mighty Heart" was unfortunately released in theaters at the wrong time, but hopefully more will now see this gripping docudrama. Angelina Jolie gives a phenomenal performance as Mariane Pearl, who is such a brave and strong woman. The DVD supplements are light, but do focus on the importance of the film's story, message and the aftermath of Pearl's death. Presenation-wise, the DVD is only above average. If this is your a cup of tea, then this a rental for sure.