Speculation about a major Hollywood movie to be made on the kidnapping and execution of journalist Daniel Pearl has been rife for a while. Of course, that means a lot of Pakistan and a lot of Karachi coming to a big screen near you very soon.
It turns out that it is going to happen. In fact, as ATP mentioned earlier, with the movie on the book ‘Charlie Wilson’s War’ starring Tom Hanks and Julia Roberts also in the works, there will be a lot of Pakistan on big screens (much of it, of course, not very complimentary).
It is now being reported that the Angelina Jolie-Brad Pitt (Brangelina for the uninitiated) team has signed on for the project; Jolie as the lead role and Pitt as producer. According to the Associated Press (13 July, 2006):
Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt, whose relationship was spawned on a film set, will again work together – this time on a movie based on the life of Daniel Pearl, the Wall Street Journal reporter who was kidnapped and murdered in Pakistan. Jolie will star as Pearl’s wife, Mariane Pearl, in an adaptation of her book, “A Mighty Heart: The Brave Life and Death of My Husband Danny Pearl,” it was announced Thursday. Pitt will produce the film, directed by Michael Winterbottom.
The movie will be based on Mariane Pearl’s account of her husband’s abduction in Karachi, Pakistan, in 2002, while researching a story on Islamic militancy. Months later, his beheaded body was found in a shallow grave in a compound on the outskirts of Karachi. “The film will focus on the deep collaboration between people around the world in search of Daniel in 2002,” Pitt told People magazine. “We hope the film can increase understanding between people of all faiths.”
“I am delighted that Angelina Jolie will be playing my role in the adaptation of my book,” Pearl said in a statement released by studio Paramount Vantage. “I deeply admire her work and what she is committed to.” There was no announcement about who would play Daniel Pearl or when shooting would begin.
The brutal murder–execution–of Danny Pearl was an inhuman at and left a big blot of both Pakistan and on Karachi. But it was also spurned interesting initiatives. Danny Pearl’s father and the Daniel Pearl Foundation have launched major initiatives for inter-faith Jewish-Muslim dialogue and two, very different, interpretations of the events have been published. One by his wife Mariane Pearl and the other, ‘Who Killed Daniel Pearl?’, by Bernard-Henri Levy. In comparing the two books, William Dalrymple in the The New York Review of Books wrote:
Karachi is the saddest of cities. It is a South Asian Beirut: a city on the sea, rich and almost glamorous in parts; but also a monument to hatred among different sectarian and ethnic groups, and to the failure of a civic society. It is a city at war as much with itself as with the outside world. The most populous metropolis in Pakistan, Karachi is a profoundly troubled place, intermittently engulfed in terrible bouts of killing and kidnapping. It is a city where the police sit huddled in sandbag emplacements for their own safety, and where the foreign consulates now resemble great fortified Crusader castles – which is how the people of Karachi look on them: the unwelcome, embattled bridgeheads of alien powers….
On January 20, 2002, a few weeks after his arrival, Daniel Pearl was lured into a trap and kidnapped. Before long his throat had been cut, live on videotape, after he had been forced to say, “My father’s Jewish. My mother’s Jewish. I’m Jewish.” His body was then dismembered. Now two books have appeared, filling in the bare outlines of this barbaric murder. One is a book of love, a simply written but very moving tribute to a murdered husband by a bereaved and grieving wife. The other is a book of hate, a passionate denunciation of a city and a country by a man who regards Karachi as a living hell, and Pakistan as a country of pure evil. Both books are of great interest; though the second [by Levy] is unsound on matters of fact and riddled with errors.
At the very least, Hollywood fans in and from Pakistan will be seeing much that is familiar (and much that is disturbing) on the celluloid soon.