Saturday, January 06, 2007

Blood Diamond

Rare is the film that "wows" me through the entire film, from beginning to end. "Blood Diamond" is that film. Though some critics may have derided it as too much of a message movie wrapped in the "action-adventure" genre...but what would they rather have, another mindless Steven Segal film? In "Blood Diamond", an excellent point is made that while America was obsessed with President Clinton's sex life, the tiny west African nation of Sierra Leone was in the midst of a bloody civil war that killed over half a million people and left two million as refugees. Think for a minute back to 1998 and 1999. What did the news media focus on while this war was raging on and Osama bin Laden was plotting his next move? That's right...Monica Lewinsky was deemed such a crisis that media outfits didn't have time to devote to real news of tragedy. Another Rwanda was in the making, but we couldn't take our eyes off the infamously stained Gap blue dress.

This film also makes the point that our materialistic greed towards the beautiful, shiny object that every American girl wants to show off to her friends has contributed to the death and violence of people in a developing world nation. If more people knew that people lost limbs or lives over this precious stone, would they still want them? If the answer is yes, what does that say about our humanity and values?

Anyhow, in "Blood Diamond", Leonardo DiCaprio plays a "soldier of fortune" from "Rhodesia" (he refuses to call it Zimbabwe) who works for the diamond cartel Van de Kamp (can anyone say "De Beers"?). Like Jack T. Colton in "Romancing the Stone", he is obsessed to get his hands on the large diamond that was found and hidden by Djimon Hounsou, a decent fisherman and family man who is forced to work in a mining camp by the leader of a rebellious group. Into the mix is photographer/reporter Jennifer Connally (always gorgeous, even in a war zone!). When DiCaprio and Connally meet, their worldview clashes immediately. Connally, the idealistic American, and DiCaprio, the cynical and war-weary independent agent who's not above using anyone and everyone to get him to the diamond in the rough. The dialogue between them snaps and sizzles. I especially like how DiCaprio describes the African situation: that the corrupt political leaders pillage their own countries resources to amass a personal fortune that will buy them a life of luxury in exile and how the rebel groups fighting against the government don't really want to inherit the problems of actually running a government. So, everyone gets lost in the shuffle and he's seen enough of the hell that is Africa to want his ticket off the continent.

And hell it is! The fighting scenes offer a glimpse of true hell on earth, where people are mowed down in the crossfire between government troops and renegade groups. Most of us in the western world have no idea how much our materialistic greed has made a living hell for the people in the developing world, where their lives hold little value to anyone in power or fighting for power. Throughout this film, there's a lot of running around, violent moments, but in between are the real gems where we get an education in the diamond industry and how the big diamond companies are complicit in the violence as they arrange semi-automatic weapons to be sold to rebel groups to scare the government into offering them exclusive deals on the diamond trade. When a company or foreign country funds both sides of a conflict, they are the evil puppetmasters in which human life has no value. If this film awakens people's awareness of world events beyond our often-shallow news stories, then it's a huge service to humanity. Critics can gripe all they want about this "message movie", but the film isn't preachy. It offers plenty of action, violence, and twists of any well made action film, but this one goes deeper into our hearts of darkness. You can't ask for a better motion picture experience than that. Highly recommended!


Sansego said...

Oops...I meant "Van de Kaap", not "Van de Kamp"...which is of course the last name of Marcia Cross's character on "Desperate Housewives".

Mandalynn said...

I have not seen this movie, but I have two things to say. One, I still love diamonds. Two, I'm anxiously awaiting your next post.

Sansego said...

Well, that's are a girl's best friend and diamonds are forever...

But, what about synthetics? You can hardly tell the difference!