Thursday, September 13, 2007

Blood Diamond

Blood Diamond; Drama, USA, 2006; D: Edward Zwick, S: Leonardo DiCaprio, Djimon Hounsou, Jennifer Connelly, Michael Sheen, Arnold Vosloo

A civil war is ravaging Sierra Leone in '99. Solomon Vandy, a normal fisherman, gets captured by the revolutionary RUF unit, separated from his family and sent to work as a slave in a diamond field that will finance rebels need for weapons. Since the US placed an diamond embargo on the country, sly Danny Archer, a white man born in Zimbabwe, helps smuggle the diamonds through to Liberia in order for them to get sold. Solomon finds a giant diamond, hides it and manages to escape from the RUF. Danny decides to help him find his family in order to get his diamond and get away from Africa. They are helped by journalist Maddy. Solomon discovers his son Dia was drafted as a child soldier into the RUF but a mercenary force strikes their base. Danny gets wounded and dies while Solomon and Dia sell the diamond and move to London.

"Blood Diamond" is one of those films that are shocking not due to some imaginary monsters, psychos or murderers, but because of displaying a real conflict that really happened, in this case the civil war in Sierra Leone, that was deemed "uninteresting" by the world because it happened on the "second grade" Continent Africa. But the director Edward Zwick shows that the misery caused by it is indeed awful no matter how unknown it is, especially disturbing due to the images of child soldiers, where barely 10-year old, brainwashed kids with rifles kill grown ups. Leonardo DiCaprio, portraying Danny Archer, a white man born in Zimbabwe trying to escape from Africa and subtly establishing a theme for the search for identity, is annoyingly trying to play a macho tough guy in the first half by constantly smoking and drinking in almost every scene, but in the second half he abandoned that approach and delivered a memorable performance, while Djimon Hounsou is even better as Solomon - both were nominated for an Oscar, while DiCaprio was also nominated for a Golden Globe. And Jennifer Connelly is simply brilliant as the clever journalist Maddie. In the first half, "Blood Diamond" is slightly shaky, eclectic and artificial, falling too often into the Hollywood cliche of the important protagonist "always getting saved in the nick of time" - that's obvious already in the exposition, when Solomon gets captured by RUF rebels who go on to chop up people's hands. But just as they are about to harm Solomon, the leader suddenly changes him mind and sends him to work in the diamond fields. Not to mention the scene where the leader is about to kill him because he hid a diamond, but gets "interrupted" by an sudden explosion caused by an attack on RUF. Still, a lot of the philosophical ramblings ring true - in one scene, Danny flat out admits to Maddie that her kind is the one responsible for blood diamonds, because "rich American girls want to have a giant diamond ring on their wedding, and the whole world demands cheap diamonds". In the end, the film is overlong and chaotic, but daringly tackles the issues of greed, exploitation, slavish mentality and the evil inside humans.


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