It is hard to pick a movie, because there are so many to choose from. Besides, everyone's taste is different. A movie I say is great another person might consider horrible. A movie that I find riveting might put you to sleep. A movie I think is funny might be, according to someone else, a movie that is vulgar and in poor taste. And so I hesitate to recommend a movie.
But I did see one recently I want to tell you about. It's "A Mighty Heart" starring Angelina Jolie. Now, I have to admit that the reason my husband was willing to see this movie was because it has a beautiful main character. Whatever. He was willing to see my movie choice, and we didn't have to fight over which movie to see.
It tells the story of Daniel Pearl, a reporter for the Wall Street Journal who was on assignment in Pakistan. He didn't come home for dinner one night, and it turned out he was kidnapped and later murdered by terrorists. The focus of the story is on his pregnant wife (also a journalist played by Angelina Jolie), and the emotional search for her husband.
Many things interested me about this movie. For example, the fact that it is about a journalist, and the fact that his wife is pregnant (family matters). But, you ask, why watch a story when you know how it is going to end? The ending is no surprise. It is based on a true event Daniel Pearl was a real person and he's the one whose beheading was videotaped as a "lesson" to Americans.
Why tell this gruesome story? For one thing, it has all the elements of real tragedy. In every tragedy from the Greeks to Romeo and Juliet to the present we know how it's going to end. Badly. Oedipus Rex is going to kill his father, marry his mother and gouge out his own eyes. Romeo and Juliet, beautiful and young, are going to end up dead. Daniel Pearl is going to be chopped into pieces by terrorists. That's tragedy.
But the other element of tragedy is that it happens, at least in part, because of something the main character chooses to do. He or she partly causes the tragedy. Romeo and Juliet didn't have to marry each other. And Daniel Pearl didn't have to go to Pakistan and try to interview that particular sheik. In fact, he kept asking people if they thought it would be safe. He was told it would be safe, as long as the interview occurred in a public place. But it was a set-up. In his commitment to be a good reporter, to try to tell the story of what was going on in Pakistan, he played a role in his own downfall.
This movie is rated R. That is a travesty. There is no sex in this movie. There is no complete nudity or sexual innuendo I've seen far worse in movies rated PG-13. There is very little violence, compared to what you see on a regular basis on television. The beheading is never shown on the screen only the horror in the eyes of the men who first watch the videotape. The "F" word is used once or twice completely appropriate when reacting to your husband's being kidnapped and murdered, don't you think?
And so why do we have to protect our youth from this movie? It doesn't make sense. This is something that really happened. There is evil in the world. It is not pretend evil, placed on a movie screen to entertain us. It is part of the world we live in. Mrs. Pearl, in the movie, eloquently says her husband is only one among others killed by terrorists. As the camera shakes, the movie captures the disorienting feeling of being in a foreign country. Pakistan's streets are chaotic, crowded, a combination of the old and the new. "A Mighty Heart" is a tense tale of terror in real life.
Next time, though, I think I'll seek a funny movie instead.