Blood Diamond

2007-05-08 15:17

In war torn Sierra Leone, two men become unlikely allies in the search for an enormous uncut pink diamond. For Danny Archer (Leonardo DiCaprio), a “Rhodesian” ex-mercenary and diamond smuggler, the pink stone is his ticket off a god-forsaken continent. But for Solomon Vandy (Djimon Hounsou), a local fisherman, the stone represents his only chance to reunite his family, scattered by the war, and to save his son from becoming a ruthless killing machine in the ranks of the brutal R.U.F. liberation movement. With the help of an idealistic American journalist named Maddy Bowen (Jennifer Connelly), the pair embark on a mad dash across the shattered country, witnessing great atrocities and even greater humanity along the way.


Edward Zwick is a filmmaker of principal. He may specialise in big, noisy action films, but he always wants them to mean something. Just look at Glory, a film about the forgotten black regiments in the American Civil War, or The Last Samurai about the end of a noble warrior culture. He may sometimes let his excitement at blowing things up get the better of him, but his films always have wider significance, and none more so than Blood Diamond.

It may be an action film, but you couldn’t ask for a more relentlessly thorough picture of the effects of conflict diamonds on a country, nor would you want to. Child soldiers, massacres of unarmed civilians, torture, mutilation and the misery of millions of refugees – it’s all here in glorious Technicolor. And the West (which, by proxy, includes South Africa) isn’t spared either. The Van De Kaap diamond company (I wonder who that could be modelled on?) receives as much of the blame as the brutal rebels and the callous arms dealers.

But, for all its good intentions, the film often ends up glamorising the turmoil. The many breathless set pieces are so thrilling, and so well executed that you can’t help but be carried away by the excitement of it all. There’s nothing essentially wrong with this – Blood Diamond is an action adventure after all. Still, there is something slightly distasteful about getting a thrill out of watching a rebel camp full of child soldiers getting blown to smithereens by a helicopter gunship.

It’s not that Zwick has intentionally set out to exploit anyone – quite the opposite in fact. You can sense that he and his talented cast and crew all believe deeply in the story they are trying to tell. And no one shows more commitment than Leonardo DiCaprio. With his well executed South African accent (it’s good enough that you stop noticing it after a while), DiCaprio fully inhabits this complex and unlikebale character. Once a personality driven performer, he has grown into a fully-fledged actor in the mould of Dustin Hoffman or Harvey Keitel.

The same can’t be said for the rest of the cast. Djimon Hounsou is an accomplished and deeply passionate actor, but needs a restraining influence. Here Zwick gives him free reign, and his performance sometimes slips into melodramatic wailing and gnashing. The luminously beautiful Jennifer Connelly is solid enough, but lacks the inspiration that saw her win an Oscar for A Beautiful Mind.

Far more satisfying for local audiences are the many small but meaty parts given to South African actors. The marvellous Antony Coleman (of Snitch and Gums and Noses fame) does particularly good work, as does newcomer Kagiso Kuypers as Hounsou’s son. And the local influence is even more pronounced behind the scenes, with dozens of South Africans working at everything from producing to gripping.

Whether you enjoy Blood Diamond depends very much on your point of view. Action fans, willing to see this as a politically flavoured skop-skiet-en-donner, will certainly get their money’s worth. But someone looking for a deeply insightful picture of Africa had best look elsewhere. Talented as he may be, Edward Zwick is a perennial button pusher - he finds the knob of your emotional volume and turns it up to 11. And, for anyone who really cares about this continent, that experience is hardly a pleasant one.

- Alistair Fairweather
It's often hard to tell whether Blood Diamond is about exploitation, or is exploitation itself. But, with Edward Zwick in spectacular action mode, will anyone care?

Margareth 2007/01/19 1:25 PM
Not seen the film Pure .....we need more of this to promote Africa as a whole....
Christine Delport 2007/01/19 4:03 PM
Blood Diamond Being involved in an international network that addresses the exploitation of the extractive industries in general on the African continent and in other developing countries around the globe, and having had the privvy of working with colleagues in the DRC and elsewhere - especially having deep insight in the whole controversy of the blood diamonds through the Fatal Transaction program, I have watchd the movie through different eyes - not looking for the romanticising of the story etc. I think only the tip of the iceberg had been shown - I know some of the facts are for REALl! I am greatful that at least the public has been exposed to some of the injustices that is going on in the world - I wish the full story could have been exposed - the public need to start taking notice of some of these injustices - well done to Zwick for his courage - and the actors WHO give voice to the truth - even if in some ways maybe a little distorted - all in all...a GREAT beginning!
Anton 2007/01/19 11:06 PM
Wake up I've had the pleasure of beeing a crew member on "Blood Daimond" And spent three months living in Maputu, working on this film, as a South African, I find at last a very acurate portrayal of the contenant's turmoil, beauty, and just plain exploitation. Yes the movie is going to make money, yes theres blood daimonds, yes there is genocide and all sorts of bull sh*t, the question as an african, and that is wat I am (although I lived half my live as a privaliged white South African in an Apartyd state) what do I give back to Africa, and ar'nt all our so called "Africans" not just exploiting for our own benefit. Its time that we stop complaining and take a hard look at ourselves, and start offering our selves to the african continent, so that it doesnt take an American film maker to remind us that the red soil runs in our vains and its time to put back into our Africa what we would like to get out of it. I would like to think that Ed's intentions was PURE, and that the movie will probably
Gordon 2007/01/21 4:28 PM
Blood Diamond "Talented as he may be, Edward Zwick is a perennial button pusher - he finds the knob of your emotional volume and turns it up to 11. And, for anyone who really cares about this continent, that experience is hardly a pleasant one. " Not quite sure what Fairweather is trying to say here? Are we to just bury our heads when storms of being an African roll over and merrily prance about happily during the fairweather days?. The heart of greed and its by product, violence, is being exposed and no, it is not a pretty sight, however it is a sight that the world needs to see and be made aware of, and for that hats to to Ed Zwick for having the courage to go up against De beers and the Diamond cartel, who, amongst others feed the greed, corruption, awful leadership and hideous violence that has always hamstrung Africa's development. Pure or Exploitive ? ask Ed, he is the only person with the qualifications to discuss his motives for making the film. TIA (This
Zaynah 2007/01/22 7:55 AM
Refreshing I thought the movie was a refreshing master piece. Having all the little Afrikaans sayings like "lekker'", "ja-ja" and "ag man", and the one part where he curses in Afrikaans is just the best. It made me feel proud being Afrikaans, usually I am ashamed of some of the common uses of our language, but I felt honoured that an international movie focused on this and made it positive. Believe you me, Arnold V had a thing or two to do with the lines! I was very suprized and for me Leonardo is pure class.
Nicky 2007/01/22 10:59 AM
An excellent movie with pure intentions Blood Diamond is movie or should I say a social commentary on what is happening in the African continent and we tend to become blase as to the atrocities that take place - we become all too wrapped up in our own news of the moment, albeit that their are common denominators - that being greed as the main one. This movie also depicts in detail the horror of children being forcefully kidnapped by the RUF and trained in a brutal manner to become killers even if it means attempting to kill your own father on different occasions. One has to ask where were world organizations at the height of the Sierra Leonne Conflict? To conclude, this movie is deserving of Oscars!
Kevin 2007/01/22 6:15 PM
Blood Diamond I really think everyones got it wrong. We judge the movie for the bad things that were done as if its a think of the past. Many people are still living the reality of the situation. We all saw the amputees in the movie. Is anyone asking whats happend to them. They were'nt actors that received millions of Dollars and after the movie went back to their normal lives. The reality is that they are poor people who after the movie went back to their poor existance. Many amputees around the world including South Africa don't have a prosthesis to help them function. normally. Think about that!!!
Aneeqah 2007/01/23 11:04 AM
Blood Diamond I enjoyed the movie....what I really need to know is whether a book has been published yet? A friend from Italy says he has the book (but in Italian) and he would like a copy in English....does anyone know if book published based on this movie and where I can obtain same?
Tina 2007/01/23 1:17 PM
Brilliant!! This movie is absolutely brilliant, extremely well done!! Leo was absolutely on accent and all!! He really is an extremely talented man!This movie is definately a pure movie and not in any way exploitative! Definately deserves an oscar both for the movie and for Leo.
Amanda 2007/01/24 9:36 AM
Absolutely Brilliant! De Caprio is outstanding. I cried my eyes out at the end.He really takes you on this journey of corruption and exploitation and shows you there is hope after all even if things look grim.I always thought his just a pretty boy but he definately put the record straight.De Caprio is a master at what he does 5minutes into the movie I forgot I was actually looking at an American actor playing a Zimbabwean national.He really brings it off there's no other word but BRILLIANT!
Joanne 2007/01/24 9:44 AM
Comfort Zones Brilliant movie - This movie pushes us out of our comfort zones. It made me think about the beautiful diamond sitting on my finger. Was there blood shed / families destroyed in order for me to get the "final" product? Well done Leo - u pulled it off well - Now take home the Oscar
Refilwe 2007/01/24 2:32 PM
Convincing i almost forgot that i was seating in a cinema, its so concincing i cried my eyes out.Leo is the best, love the accent broer!
Chris 2007/01/24 7:43 PM
Movie of the century 5 Oscar nominations. Should have been more. The Americans do not feel the same way we as south africans do about the movie. Ja Leo was extremely good, but Djimon Hounsou delivered the best performance in my opinion. Hope this Benin born actor gets rewarded with an oscar for best supporting actor. What more can I say, out of five stars i give a 6.
Johan 2007/01/26 12:22 PM
excellent Glad to see Leo got rid of his boyish rolls and thik its his best performance up to date - this was a brilliant movie and will put it up on my all time favorite list - excellent movie
LONA 2007/02/06 11:30 AM
BRILLIANT!!!! I fail to find a word that can describe how good Leonardo was in this movie.... A good eye opener as to how some of the gems we love so much made it to our jewellers!! I recommend it to anyone who is tired of all the commercial movies hollywood is feeding us. QUALITY movie in all respects!!
Shaun Malambo 2007/02/10 9:49 PM
TIA Being an boy growing up on the surburbs of Cape Town, I noticed that we as South Africans forgot that we are part of Africa. I was part of the struggle and as a grew up and saw my father trying to 'hide' apartheid away from us. After seeing this very inspiring movie it brought me to tears. I could resemble my life with it. Leonardo reminds me of the day in my life. Me and my father was on our way back home, from Douglas in the Northern Cape. We were on a gravel road and our fuel tank hit a stone and was leaking. We only needed a bar of soap to close the hole. As he was lying underneath the car to keep the hole close, I had to wave down cars to ask for help. Every person mostly white farmers just drove passed. The sun was rising and it was getting hot and I will never forget, just when I gave up hope, I saw a old orange Mazda stopping with a white lady in it. She was very kind and gave us, her only bar of soap she had, which a friend of hers in France gave her. She wished us luck but, n
eleasar 2007/02/11 3:17 AM
blood diamond these movie is basically made to implicate that diamonds are bad for implicates that diamonds kill people.
Lukhanye Somtunzi 2007/02/11 5:00 PM
AWSOME one of the best movies, I watched it twice and its just awsome, its like it really happening and all the characters were superb.I still give it 10/10
aung 2007/03/15 5:09 PM
love [obscenity deleted]
janet 2007/12/27 1:28 AM
Eye opener For me it was a stunning movie, the acting excellent - loved how Leo portrayed the typical sa male... and Djimon, also acting spectacular, I felt their pain throughout the movie - and am definitely put off diamonds... Who needs them anyway.
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