A Mighty Heart parents guide

A Mighty Heart Parent Guide

Overall B-

This movie is based on the true and tragic story of Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl. When his wife Mariane (Angelina Jolie) discovers Daniel (Dan Futterman) has been captured by a terrorist group, the pregnant woman remains stoically optimistic while Pakistani police, FBI agents and government officials investigate the international incident.

Release date June 22, 2007

Violence C
Sexual Content B-
Profanity D
Substance Use B-

Why is A Mighty Heart rated R? The MPAA rated A Mighty Heart R for language.

Parent Movie Review

Probably the most difficult movies to criticize are those representing real events with tragic outcomes. Such is the case in A Mighty Heart, which chronicles the final days of Daniel Pearl, a Wall Street Journal reporter who was executed by terrorists in 2002.

Determined to investigate a possible link between shoe bomber Richard Reid and Islamic extremists, Daniel (played by Dan Futterman) and his wife Mariane (Angelina Jolie) travel to Pakistan. On the final night of the couple’s stay in the country, the journalist schedules a meeting with the difficult-to-see Sheikh Gilani. The interview is initially arranged at a restaurant, but Daniel is unwittingly led to a house on the outskirts of the city where he is captured, bound and detained.

Telling the story through the eyes of his pregnant wife, the movie begins late that evening when he fails to return, and stretches into the following dreadful days and weeks of speculation and fear over whether or not his captors will spare his life. With her home turned into a command center full of Pakistani police, FBI agents, other government officials and supportive friends, Mariane keeps a stoic face full of optimism. Unfortunately, history has already told us she will not see her husband alive again.

Thankfully, director Michael Winterbottom has chosen to avoid exploitation of the situation and has not included the real-life, graphic footage of Daniel’s death. So while the movie deals with a very violent act, there is little violence on the screen. (Even so, the film is still not appropriate for children or young teens.) The production does contain portrayals of men being interrogated while bound, hung by their wrists, and presumably naked (our view is from the waist up), as well as a scene where guns are fired during the capture of a suspect. Likely the greatest concern (and reason for the US R-rating) is multiple uses of a sexual expletive.

The turning of this well publicized story into a dramatic movie has attracted a number of criticisms, mostly by those who claim it is just another way to make a buck off of another post-9/11 tale of misery. However, it could as easily be argued that the project is intended to give Mariane (who now lives with her son in Paris) an opportunity to reveal the events leading to her husband’s death. Also a seasoned journalist, she worked closely with the movie’s creative team to try and maintain accuracy.

Shot in a documentary style, with natural performances (especially Jolie’s) and with mesmerizing detail, it is often hard to remember you are viewing a drama. And that may be the film’s biggest flaw. We are pummeled with so many facts and situations we don’t have room to be emotionally gripped by her grief. Still, the love Mariane has for her husband is always evident, and gives this film a “heart” that is undeniable.

Starring Angelina Jolie, Dan Futterman, Irrfan Khan, Archie Panjabi, Will Pat. Theatrical release June 22, 2007. Updated

A Mighty Heart
Rating & Content Info

Why is A Mighty Heart rated R? A Mighty Heart is rated R by the MPAA for language.

Carefully chronicling the events leading up to the brutal murder of reporter Daniel Pearl by Islamic extremists, this film is not suitable for children. The ongoing situation creates a continual sense of peril and tension, yet the film depicts very little explicit violence. Men are portrayed hanging by their wrists and being interrogated, while presumably naked (shown from the waist up). In another scene, men fire shots during the capture of a suspect. Multiple sexual expletives are heard, along with some other profanities. A brief shot shows a married couple embracing in bed—bare backs and shoulders are seen. Some secondary characters smoke and drink.

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More parents' guide for A Mighty Heart after the break...

A Mighty Heart Parents' Guide

This film is a drama closely based on a true story. Movies like this are often referred to as “docudramas.” What techniques does the filmmaker use to give you the impression you are watching a documentary of real events as they unfold? What ethical considerations should be taken into account when creating this kind of movie? How could casting major Hollywood stars detract or alter a viewer’s perception of the subject matter?

Home Video

The most recent home video release of A Mighty Heart movie is October 16, 2007. Here are some details…

DVD Release Date: 16 October 2007

The pulse of A Mighty Heart can be felt in the featurette A Journey of Passion, which explores the making of the film. The DVD release also includes a public service announcement for The Pearl Foundation (with Christiane Amanpour), a message about the Committee to Protect Journalists, and the movie’s theatrical trailer. Audio tracks are available in 5.1 Dolby Digital, 5.1 PCM (English, French and Spanish), with subtitles in English, French and Spanish.

Related home video titles:

World Trade Center and United 93 are other movies that have told the personal stories behind real life acts of terrorism.