By Debbie Schlussel
June 18, 2007I went to the screening of "A Mighty Heart"--activists Brad Pitt's and Angelina Jolie's movie on the Al-Qaeda murder of Daniel Pearl--expecting a movie with an agenda.
And that is exactly what I got. That, plus a Lifetime Channel weepy-damsel-in-distress movie of the week. Muslims are the heroes--NOT the perpetrators--in this "Can't we all just get along?" kumbaya film ostensibly about terrorism.
As one would expect from the Jolie-Pitts, "A Mighty Heart" is mostly NOT about the Al-Qaeda murder of Daniel Pearl, killed in cold blood specifically because he was a Jew. In fact, the movie minimizes that, instead repeatedly blaming America for its treatment of Guantanamo Bay prisoners as the reason Pearl was cut into the ten pieces like a slaughtered chicken, the state in which his body was found. (That's no surprise, given that the Jolie-Pitts hired as "A Mighty Heart's" director, Michael Winterbottom, who also directed the propaganda fake-umentary, " The Road to Guantanamo.") In "A Mighty Heart," we see no depiction at all of Pearl's captivity or even kidnapping by Qaeda thugs, but for a few re-enactments of tiny parts of the famous Pearl video.
Most shocking, we get an onscreen repeat of the oft-told Muslim myth that 4,000 Jews didn't show up for work at the World Trade Center on 9/11, because the Jews planned the attacks. The movie provides no refutation of this myth or any indication that it is invalid. (It shouldn't be shocking, though, given Jolie's anti-Israel and pro-Palestinian activities.)
And instead of depictions of Daniel Pearl's treatment at the hand of Muslims, Jolie/Pitt repeatedly hit you over the head with a baseball bat that the hero--not the murderers--in the Daniel Pearl story is a Muslim, a Pakistani Police Captain. We see him admonishing a Qaeda Pearl suspect that he is not "a good Muslim." The movie also stresses that Pearl's friend, Asra Nomani, is a feminist Muslim who also is upset and worried for Daniel Pearl. And don't forget the cheerful, hijab-encrusted full-time, diligent housekeeper and her cute little Muslim baby boy--both of whom we constantly see, in-your-face-style, throughout the movie.
That's all nice and dandy. But these Muslims wouldn't be involved, but for the fact that oodles of their fellow co-religionists--the ones who follow the dominant Sunni strain of their religion, Wahhabism--kidnapped and murdered Pearl in the name of their religion, an undisputable fact that is minimized as much as possible in "A Mighty Heart."
The long, boring, disjointed movie is less about an Al-Qaeda kidnapping and live crude dissection murder of an American Jew, and more a mixture of MTV's "The Real World" (or CBS' even worse reality show "Big Brother") and a Lifetime Network movie of the week. Short on Qaeda info, it is long on scenes of Angelina Jolie, as Mariane Pearl, wandering, brooding, and whining as she roams a cool looking, modern house in what is supposed to be Pakistan.
Mostly, we see her speaking--and whining--in a really, really bad "Saturday Night Live" version of a French accent (that's in addition to the brief, terrible Israeli accent of the actor playing Judea Pearl, Daniel's father). Peppy Le Pew and Peter Sellers were far more convincing.
We see Jolie, uh . . . Pearl, roaming around a cool modern house interacting with friends and associates and constantly uttering meaningful, poignant lines, like: "Sh*t, Sh*t, Sh*t;" "Bullsh*t, Bullsh*t, Bullsh*t;" "F*ck, F*ck, F*ck." Actually, most of the American characters in this film have those obscenity-laced lines, too.
On top of that, we're treated to dialogue by Mariane's Muslim friends, like this:
What do Americans really know about Afghanistan and Pakistan . . . other than bombing them?
In addition to blaming America's Gitmo detention of terrorists for Pearl's murder, the movie also blames the Wall Street Journal for providing the CIA computer files it obtained, giving insight into the operation of shoe bomber Richard Reid, his Al-Qaeda connection, and his scoping out of Israel. By doing that, in Jolie/Pitt/Mariane Pearl's eyes, the Journal confirmed Qaeda's assertion that Pearl is a CIA agent.
Any reason, any excuse to grab for Pearl's inexcusable, horrific murder--other than Muslims hate a Jew and barbaricly kill him for it--and the movie grabs onto it. Even prior to making the movie, last year, Brad Pitt a/k/a Mr. Jolie--producer of this film--lectured us that
We hope the film can increase understanding between people of all faiths and portray the story and the people involved . . . without anger or judgment.
In other words, don't judge the Muslims. Don't judge the people who barbaricly killed Pearl because he was a Jew. Don't even think that's why they killed him. Understand the murderers.
Understand that it's not right for us to keep murderous terrorists in detention with three gourmet halal meals a day and every religious article they'd ever want. Understand that the Wall Street Journal should never help the CIA with intelligence to counter terrorists.
And those are the messages of this movie. That's why, instead of scenes of Muslims beating, interrogating, torturing, beheading, and dissecting Daniel Pearl, we see Muslim Asra Nomani crying and anguishing over Danny. We see Muslim police officers very concerned about Pearl.
Mariane tells us of the beauty of Muslim Eid Al-Adha sacrifices of lambs. We see a scene of Mariane, a French Afro-Cuban/Dutch Buddhist, bowing down to the ground meditating. Then, it shows Muslims also bowing down to the ground praying to Allah. Forget the butchering Muslim murderers. We are all the same. We all care. We all pray in a similar manner. That's the message of this movie.
And then there are the even sillier parts of this movie. Woven in with the earnest, concerned Muslim detectives and police officers, we see caricatures of the Americans, which are such comedic parodies, you wonder how they made it into what is supposed to be a serious movie about an execution of an American Jew. They appear stolen from the editorial cartoons of Islamist newspapers in Egypt and Saudi Arabia and propaganda dramas on Hezbollah's Al-Manar.
We see a useless lesbian FBI agent who does nothing but sound and appear officious in a Rosie O'Donnell know-it-all way. No, the movie doesn't say she's a lesbian, but trust me, they picked the most butch-looking actress possible. Clearly, she plays for the other team.
Then, there's Randall Bennett, a mysterious "security official" from the U.S. Embassy in Karachi. Played by Will Patton, who often plays criminals, bad guys, and bizarros, the CIA-esque Bennett constantly wears sunglasses indoors and gushes and drools over Pakistani torture of suspects.
And don't forget Wall Street Journal reporter Steve Levine, played by Gary Wilmes, the most stereotypically Jewish-looking actor they could cast--a living embodiment of the angst-ridden, sweaty big-nosed, glasses-wearing Jew you'd find in "The Protocols of the Elders of Zion" picture book for kids.
Yup, that's how the Muslim world--and Pitt and Jolie--see America: bizarre, drooling torturers in sunglasses, lesbian FBI agents, and big-nosed, bespectacled Jews who dominate the media.
So much for Pitt's exhorting us to be "understanding" and "without judgment."
At the end of the movie, we are told in Jolie/Mariane's voice that
Ten Pakistanis were killed this month by terrorists. They [Pakistanis and Muslims] are suffering as much as we are.
Are they really? How many of the Americans were killed because they were from rival terrorist groups? How many Pakistanis were blown to smithereens because they were on airplanes or in the two tall towers they flew into?
The problem with the film is that the Jolie-Pitts do have judgment--against us and not the terrorists or their Islam--and that they have very selective understanding--lenience only for those, ie., Muslims, who hate Jews and hate Americans, looking for that tiny fringe of moderation that's barely on the far, outer margin.
In the many print and broadcast interviews in the mounting PR campaign for this summer movie, Jolie tells the press that
Mariane is a person who has every right to be full of hate, and yet she's completely the opposite. She wants to have a dialogue.
And there are Jolie's and Pitt's lectures that
The hero of this movie is a Muslim Pakistani Captain . . . . Muslim, Christian, Buddhist, Jewish--they all came together, all of them becoming great friends.
The problem is not with whether or not Mariane Pearl hates those who butchered her husband to death or whether those who helped investigate it were a tiny number of Muslim friends and police who don't represent the dominant anti-Semitic, pan-terrorist thought on the Muslim street.
The problem is that those who butchered her husband were dominated by hate and that they are Muslim. And a propaganda film whitewashing that by a beautiful actress and her metrosexual boyfriend won't make them hate us any less or make Islam any less extremist.
Until we face those facts, there will be many more Daniel Pearls. Onscreen Valentines to terrorists and their hateful religion, a la "A Mighty Heart," only enable their murderers.
If your heart is so big that your head is buried in the sand, it's not "A Mighty Heart." It's a weak heart, soon to be in cardiac arrest.