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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, Theatrical Trailer

Specs: 2.40:1 Widescreen 1080p High Definition, English 5.1 Dolby TrueHD, French Dolby Digital 5.1, Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1, English Subtitles, French Subtitles, Spanish Subtitles, Portuguese Subtitles, Scene Selection (13 Scenes)

Released: March 24th, 2009



"A Mighty Heart" is presented in 1080p high definition, with a widescreen aspect ratio of 2.35:1. This Blu-ray release is more centered and ultimately looks better than the DVD counterpart released in October 2007. The film was shot on a low budget, so at times the image can be pretty soft and grainy. The scenes that take place in the dark, however, seem less murky than they did on the DVD. Color saturation is pretty good, as are fleshtones. Detail, however, is really quite excellent and there's a lot to take in here. This is a pretty strong transfer that makes the most of the filmmakers' docu-drama style. 


The English 5.1 Dolby TrueHD is pretty dynamic, with high fidelity and much depth in the sonic landscape. Dialogue is clear and quite crisp, while Molly Nyman and Harry Escott's musical score hits the right buttons through the channels. Subwoofer use is above par, while surrounds - more often on the subtle side - do have a kick to them, namely scenes ripe with tension, such as when guns are clocked and when characters sneak around. This track isn't overly bombastic, but still has its share of discrete sounds and definitely pulls you into the thick of things. 

5.1 Dolby Digital tracks are available in French and Spanish, and there are subtitles in English, French Spanish, and Portuguese.


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.

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. Rounding it out is the Theatrical Trailer in high-definition (and not on the standard DVD).


"A Mighty Heart" unfortunately did not make a dent in theaters, but hopefully has gained more of an audience on DVD - and now perhaps Blu-ray. The presentation is a definite improvement over the more mixed bag of the DVD, but it's not quite reference material. The supplements are still light, but do focus on the importance of the film's story, message and the aftermath of Pearl's death. Regardless, this film is worthy of a viewing, if only for Angelina Jolie's phenomenal performance.