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A Mighty Heart (film)

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A Mighty Heart
Promotional poster
Directed byMichael Winterbottom
Screenplay byJohn Orloff
Based onA Mighty Heart
by Mariane Pearl
Produced by
CinematographyMarcel Zyskind
Edited byPeter Christelis
Music by
Distributed byParamount Vantage
Release date
  • June 22, 2007 (2007-06-22)
Running time
108 minutes
CountryUnited States
Budget$16 million
Box office$18.9 million

A Mighty Heart is a 2007 American drama film directed by Michael Winterbottom from a screenplay by John Orloff. It is based on the 2003 memoir of the same name by Mariane Pearl.[1][2]

The film was screened out of competition at the 2007 Cannes Film Festival,[3] before being released in North America on June 22, 2007.[4] A Mighty Heart was met with positive reviews from critics but was a box office failure.


A Mighty Heart is a detailed account of the search for kidnapped Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl in 2002.[5]

Pearl was kidnapped in Karachi by supporters of Omar Sheikh. The movie also covers efforts by Pakistan's Security Forces, Department of Justice and the U.S. Department of State's Diplomatic Security Service (DSS) to track the kidnappers and bring them to justice. Sheikh claimed responsibility for kidnapping and beheading Pearl in 2002. He was captured and convicted but is appealing the ruling.



A Mighty Heart was filmed primarily in India and France, during the summer and fall of 2006.[6] Fearing for the safety of star Angelina Jolie and the rest of the cast and crew, the vast majority of the film, set in Karachi, was filmed in Pune, India.

However, before production was officially announced, Winterbottom traveled with co-star Dan Futterman and a skeleton crew to Karachi for ten days of filming at actual locations from the events.[7]

The production also shot multiple scenes in Austin, Texas in early 2007, including a key sequence with Marianne Pearl giving an interview in a Karachi hotel.[8] Also filmed in Austin were exteriors of the Pearl family house (set in Los Angeles) and scenes set at The Wall Street Journal offices in New York, which were filmed in the offices of the Austin American-Statesman.[9]

Box-office performance[edit]

A Mighty Heart performed poorly at the box office, only earning a total revenue of $18 million compared to its production budget of $16 million.[10] The film opened June 22, 2007 in the United States and Canada and grossed $3.9 million in 1,355 theaters its opening weekend, ranking #10 at the box office. It went on to gross $18,727,125 worldwide.[10] As of December 16, 2007, the film has grossed an additional $5.4 million in DVD sales and rentals in the United States.[11]

Critical reception[edit]

The film received positive reviews from critics. Rotten Tomatoes reports that 79% of critics gave the film positive reviews, based on 192 reviews. The site's consensus states: "Angelina Jolie conveys the full emotional range of a woman in a desperate situation in A Mighty Heart, an urgent yet tactful film about a difficult subject."[12] Metacritic reported the film had an average score of 74 out of 100, based on 38 reviews.[13]

Jolie's performance was widely touted by top critics as her finest artistic achievement to date. Both she and the film received a positive review from Roger Ebert.[14] The film was described by Newsweek as "a movie without melodrama or movie-star lighting…allowing Jolie to deliver the most delicate, powerful and human-scale performance of her career."[15] Other favorable reviewers included Peter Travers of Rolling Stone,[16] Justin Chang of Variety[17] and Ray Bennett of The Hollywood Reporter.[4] Marc Mohan of The Oregonian named it the 10th best film of 2007.[18]

However, Andrew O'Hehir, film critic for Salon, while finding Jolie's performance "restrained and dignified", dismissed the film itself, writing, "it feels like an extra-long episode of 24 with a bad conscience and a bad ending."[19] Entertainment Weekly's Lisa Schwarzbaum felt that Jolie's celebrity was a problem, commenting that "Despite the best of intentions, an actress who makes her own headlines gets in the way of the big picture."[20]


Asra Nomani—a colleague of Daniel Pearl who had agreed to participate in the film—stated that the film failed to portray Pearl as a journalist, doing his job, in favor of creating a dramatic arc of "ordinary heroes". She believes Pearl would have "rolled his eyes" at that description. Describing her own response to the film, Nomani said, "For me, watching the movie was like having people enter my home, rearrange the furniture and reprogram my memory."[21]

The announcement of the casting of Angelina Jolie in the role of Mariane Pearl drew criticism within the African-American community.[22] Orville Lloyd Douglas, a pop critic, has criticized the casting[23] because, he said, "Jolie is white" and Mariane Pearl is "mixed race"; Pearl is the multiracial daughter of an Afro-Chinese-Cuban mother and a Dutch Jewish father.[19][24][25] Pearl personally chose Jolie to play the lead in A Mighty Heart.[26] In response to casting complaints, Pearl said "I have heard some criticism about her casting, but it is not about the color of your skin. It is about who you are. I asked her to play the role—even though she is way more beautiful than I am—because I felt a real kinship to her. She put her whole heart into it, and I think she understood why we should do this movie. We had something to say that we knew we should say together."[26]


On November 27, 2007, the film was nominated for three Independent Spirit Awards including Best Screenplay, Best Actress and Best Picture of the Year.

Jolie was nominated for a Golden Globe Award, a Screen Actors Guild Award, and a Critics' Choice Movie Award for best actress. She also received an Outstanding Performance of the Year Award for her performance from the Santa Barbara International Film Festival. SBIFF Executive Director Roger Durling said, "We are honored to celebrate Ms. Jolie in what is arguably one of the most extraordinary female roles of the year".[27]

Award Category Nominee Result
Golden Globe Awards[28] Best Actress – Motion Picture Drama Angelina Jolie Nominated
Golden Satellite Awards[29] Best Actress – Motion Picture Drama Angelina Jolie Nominated
Screen Actors Guild Awards[30] Best Actress Angelina Jolie Nominated
Critics' Choice Movie Awards[31] Best Actress Angelina Jolie Nominated
Independent Spirit Awards[32] Best Actress Angelina Jolie Nominated
Best Film (Feature) Nominated
Best First Screenplay John Orloff Nominated
Teen Choice Awards[33] Best Actress – Drama Angelina Jolie Nominated
34th People's Choice Awards[34] Favorite Independent Movie Nominated
Cannes Film Festival[3] Chopard Trophy Archie Panjabi Won
National Board of Review[35] Top Ten Independent Films Won

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Bowles, Scott (October 10, 2006). "Jolie and Pitt, with 'Heart'". USA Today. Retrieved June 7, 2007.
  2. ^ Agence France Presse (May 4, 2007). "Angelina Jolie and Mariane Pearl discuss 'A Mighty Heart'". Turkish Daily News. Archived from the original on September 30, 2007. Retrieved June 7, 2007.
  3. ^ a b "Festival de Cannes: A Mighty Heart". festival-cannes.com. Archived from the original on September 24, 2014. Retrieved December 20, 2009.
  4. ^ a b Bennett, Ray (May 22, 2007). "Review: 'A Mighty Heart'". The Hollywood Reporter. Archived from the original on September 30, 2007. Retrieved June 16, 2007. With the BBC's Gaza correspondent Alan Johnston now missing and believed kidnapped for 70 days and journalists in danger in hotspots worldwide, a film version of Mariane Pearl's book about the search for her husband could not be more timely… the film reflects the dispassionate view espoused by Mariane Pearl, who sees that it is misery that breeds terrorism. Jolie plays her with respect and a firm grasp on a difficult accent influenced by France and Cuba.
  5. ^ Strupp, Joe (June 21, 2007). "'WSJ' Editors Call 'A Mighty Heart' Fair and Accurate". Editor & Publisher. It was an accurate portrayal of the Journal and I think the Journal's people, like [then-foreign editor] John Bussey, who were deeply involved came off well as they should have," said former managing editor Paul Steiger, who recalled he saw the movie recently in a private showing for Journal staffers. "I think Angelina Jolie captured Mariane very, very well." Managing Editor Marcus Brauchli, who took over for Steiger and was national editor at the time of Pearl's death, also believed the film was fair. "I don't feel that the Journal was portrayed badly in the film," he said. "I think we were treated reasonably. Angelina Jolie did a good job of channeling Mariane.
  6. ^ "A Mighty Heart Full Production Notes". Made In Atlantis. Archived from the original on July 19, 2011. Retrieved August 25, 2008.
  7. ^ Tugend, Tom (June 22, 2007). "Actor Dan Futterman and director Michael Winterbottom". Jewish Journal. Retrieved June 22, 2020.
  8. ^ O'Connell, Joe (January 26, 2007). "Four for the Weekend". Austin Chronicle.
  9. ^ "My desk was in an Angelina Jolie movie". sues-news.com. August 13, 2012.
  10. ^ a b "A Mighty Heart (2007)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved November 3, 2007.
  11. ^ A Mighty Heart - Box Office Data, Movie News, Cast Information - The Numbers
  12. ^ "A Mighty Heart - Rotten Tomatoes". Rotten Tomatoes. Archived from the original on January 5, 2008. Retrieved January 5, 2008.
  13. ^ "Mighty Heart, A (2007): Reviews". Metacritic. Archived from the original on December 30, 2007. Retrieved January 5, 2008.
  14. ^ Ebert, Roger (June 21, 2007). "Searching for humanity". Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved November 11, 2009.
  15. ^ Smith, Sean (June 25, 2007). "Angelina Jolie wants to save the world". Newsweek. Archived from the original on July 10, 2010. Retrieved July 24, 2007.
  16. ^ Travers, Peter (June 15, 2007). "A Mighty Heart". Rolling Stone. Archived from the original on June 20, 2007. Retrieved June 16, 2007.
  17. ^ Chang, Justin (May 21, 2007). "A Mighty Heart: Cannes Film Festival Review". Variety. Archived from the original on June 22, 2007. Retrieved June 16, 2007. In his first studio venture, Michael Winterbottom coaxes forth a staggering wealth of detail from this terse, methodical account.
  18. ^ "Metacritic: 2007 Film Critic Top Ten Lists". Metacritic. Archived from the original on January 2, 2008. Retrieved January 5, 2008.
  19. ^ a b O'Hehir, Andrew (May 21, 2007). "Beyond the Multiplex". Salon.com. Archived from the original on August 21, 2009. Retrieved June 16, 2007.
  20. ^ Schwarzbaum, Lisa (June 13, 2007). "A Mighty Heart". Entertainment Weekly. Archived from the original on June 16, 2007. Retrieved June 16, 2007.
  21. ^ Nomani, Asra Q. (June 24, 2007). "A Mighty Shame". The Washington Post.
  22. ^ "Angelina Jolie sparks casting controversy". NBC News. August 2, 2006. Retrieved December 2, 2007.
  23. ^ Douglas, Orville Lloyd (June 9, 2007). "Shades of blackface". The New Zealand Herald. Retrieved June 19, 2007. When Angelina Jolie was cast to play Marianne Pearl in the biopic film A Mighty Heart there was an uproar by the African American community. Jolie is white whereas Pearl - widow of journalist Daniel Pearl who was kidnapped and murdered by terrorists in Pakistan in 2002 - is a mixed race woman of Afro-Cuban heritage with her mother Marita Van Neyenhoff being black.
  24. ^ Pearl, Mariane (June 30, 2006). "The woman who gave me my strength". Glamour.
  25. ^ McAlpin, Heller (October 2, 2003). "Collateral Damage". The Christian Science Monitor.
  26. ^ a b "10 Questions for Mariane Pearl". Time. June 21, 2007. Archived from the original on June 26, 2007.
  27. ^ "Angelina Jolie to Receive Outstanding Performance Honor at 23rd Santa Barbara International Film Festival". sbiff.org. October 24, 2007. Archived from the original on December 9, 2007.
  28. ^ "Hollywood Foreign Press Association 2008 Golden Globe Awards for the Year Ended December 31, 2007". goldenglobes.org. December 13, 2007. Archived from the original on December 15, 2007. Retrieved January 5, 2008.
  29. ^ "2007 Satellite Awards". International Press Academy. Retrieved January 19, 2023.
  30. ^ "The 14th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards | Screen Actors Guild Awards". www.sagawards.org. Retrieved January 19, 2023.
  31. ^ "Critics' Choice Awards nominations". Variety. December 11, 2007. Retrieved January 19, 2023.
  32. ^ "Independent Spirit Awards Nominees Announced". FirstShowing.net. November 27, 2007. Retrieved January 19, 2023.
  33. ^ "Official Start of Summer Is Here with the First Wave of "Teen Choice 2007" Nominees". TheFutonCritic.com. July 3, 2007. Retrieved January 19, 2023.
  34. ^ "People's Choice Awards Past Winners: 2008". PCAvote.com. Sycamore Productions. Archived from the original on December 28, 2007. Retrieved January 10, 2008.
  35. ^ "2007 Archives". National Board of Review. Retrieved January 19, 2023.

External links[edit]