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BLOOD DIAMOND by Edward Zwick


After an attack on his village by the RUF (Revolutionary United Front) Solomon Vandy (Djimon Hounsou) is forced to work in the diamond mines of Kono. His wife and daughter can escape, but his son Dia (Kagiso Kuypers) is forced to join the RUF as a child soldier.
Just when Solomon finds a huge diamond and tries to hide it from Captain Poison (David Harewood), the RUF camp leader, government forces attack and Solomon is imprisoned together with the Captain. In prison, diamond smuggler and former mercenary Danny Archer (Leonardo DiCaprio) overhears Solomon’s and Poison’s dispute about the diamond and makes plans to recover the diamond for himself. One little bribe later, Archer and Vandy are released from prison, and Danny makes an offer – he will help Vandy to find his family in exchange for the diamond.
In the disguise of a journalist and his cameraman and with the help of Maddy Bowen (Jennifer Connelly) they join a group of international reporters on their way to the Kono area. But they are not the only ones who want this diamond – Captain Poison and mercenary Colonel Coetzee (Arnold Vosloo) also want to get them in their hands, and it is a long way to where the diamond is buried in the red sands of civil war-stricken Sierra Leone …

“Blood diamonds” or “conflict diamonds” are diamonds illegally smuggled out of war-zones and sold for the purpose of buying weapons. The movie takes place during the civil war in Sierra Leone (1991 – 2002), when the RUF tried to overthrow the government and was notorious for hacking off hands of civilians (the election slogan of the government was that the people ‘had power in their hands’) and captured soldiers (“You don’t hold your weapon against your brother.”).
BLOOD DIAMOND does have it’s share of action and chase scenes, but it’s neither an action nor a war film – it’s a film with an agenda. Fight scenes are of the kind you are not used to see in Hollywood movies – no heroics, no slo-mo fighting. Fighting and killing are depicted as what they are – brutal, ugly, almost unbearable, even more so than in the famed Omaha Beach landing scene from Saving Private Ryan.

And the characters are not your typical Hollywood action characters as well.
Maddy (Jennifer Connelly) is a reporter who wants to uncover the story of conflict diamonds and expose the responsible companies and generally wants to make the world a better place, but she catches herself saying: “This whole country’s at war. Why should I help just one person?” before she realizes what she just said.
And Danny Archer, Leonardo DiCaprio’s character, is a man who will do anything and betray anyone for the right amount of money (or a diamond the right size) – and DiCaprio delivers a terrific performance, far away from his Titanic pretty boy-image.
Captain Poison best describes himself: “You think I am a devil, but only because I have lived in hell. I want out.”
And in the middle of war, death, mutilation and chaos, there is a man who devotes his life to helping children mentally or physically crippled by the war, and he states “A moment of love, even in a bad man, gives his life meaning.”
Somewhat more one-dimensional is Djimon Hounsou’s character Solomon Vandy – close to the cliché of the “noble savage”, a man who must learn to lie to survive, but most of all he is a father who loves his son and would do anything to rescue him – even if that means turning into a raging killer himself if necessary.

The beautiful African landscape is captured by Director of Photography Eduardo Serra in equally beautiful images.

Audiences may be disturbed by the casual (the shooting of a slave diamond miner who tries to steal a diamond) and the shocking (massacres on innocent civilians, hacking off hands of men, women and children, and turning children into zombie-like child soldiers) violence – it’s never graphic (the camera tends to focus on the face of the offender instead of the blood’n’guts of the victims) nor does it have the aesthetics of the contemporary Hollywood war or action movie.
It’s clearly not Edward Zwick’s intention to give you two hours of brainless entertainment for your bucks – he wants to rouse awareness and your conscience. And he does.

Blood Diamond Trailer

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