Horizon at Sandy Point

Sunday, August 11, 2013

A Mighty Scream

Angelina Jolie's scream - it lasts at least 30 seconds - is the most heart-wrenching moment ever captured in film. The scream - its futility and anguish, deep irreparable pain and the torment of living - becomes the defining scene of the movie, A Mighty Heart. Her character Mariane Pearl has just been told that the father of her unborn child, Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl has been killed by his kidnappers. Days of gut-wrenching tenuous hope disappear in a moment. This moment requires an aside, a time out, the interval in which her life is shattered but she's still alive.

Mariane leaves the room where police chiefs, federal agents, friends and investigators are standing about helplessly, concern etched on their faces, hearts full of useless pity. She closes the door to her bedroom. She screams. Again and again and again. The "no, no, no" mounts to an inarticulate howl. Tears stream. Then she gathers herself, cradles her pregnancy, and returns to the other room, composed but not consoled. With a gesture, she apologises.

In what must be her most powerful role to date, Jolie presents Mariane Pearl with grace and restraint that makes her riveting to watch. The performances of Jolie, Dan Futterman (Daniel) and Archie Panjabi (Asra) make this film more than an account of a kidnapping of a journalist by terrorists. It is a love story, about being in love with life.

In early 2002, Daniel Pearl disappeared on his way to interview Sheikh Jilani. It was to have been his last assignment before leaving Pakistan. The film tells of the events and the investigation to find Danny and to bring his killers to justice. In 2003, after the birth of their child, Mariane wrote "A Mighty Heart." It was made into the film and released in 2007. Mariane - of Dutch-Cuban ancestry, and living in Paris - wanted her character to be played by Angelina Jolie.

One of the greatest benefits of a film like A Mighty Heart is that it can lead you back to the book. In the prologue to her memoir titled A Mighty Heart The Brave Life and Death of my Husband Danny Pearl, Mariane explains: "I write this book for you, Adam, so you know that your father was not a hero, but an ordinary man. An ordinary hero with a mighty heart."

Even though it will take me a lot longer to read than the two hours to watch the movie, I am certain that the book will provide greater insights to Mariane, Danny, Pakistan and the "war on terror." It will also certainly need a more studied review. Stay tuned!

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