Blood Diamond (10/10)
by Tony Medley
Most of us take the nice,
soft life we live for granted. We rarely stop to think about what it’s
like in other parts of the world.
Life here is nothing like it
is in Africa, where natives brutally kill and maim other natives with
impunity and glee. Two years ago a wonderful film, “Hotel Rwanda,” tried
to show what it was like to be a Tutsi in Rwanda when 1,000,000 of them
were being slaughtered by the Hutus, all of which was ignored by the UN
and the Clinton Administration, even though he thought it important to
risk American lives to save white Muslims in Kosovo, where the death
toll was about one percent of what it was in Rwanda, where the victims
were black and often Christian. Now Blood Diamond, an even better film,
shows what life was like in Sierra Leone at the close of the 20th
Danny Archer (Leonardo
DiCaprio), an ex-mercenary from Zimbabwe, is in the business of trading
diamonds for arms. Maddy Bowen (Jennifer Connelly) is an American
journalist in Sierra Leone trying to expose the truth behind the
“conflict” diamonds Danny is selling, hoping to prove an unholy alliance
between diamond industry leaders and bad guys who are using diamonds to
buy guns they use to massacre people.
Meanwhile, Solomon Vandy (Djimon
Hounsou), a Mende fisherman, is enslaved after brutal revolutionaries
invade his village and kidnap his son, Dia (Kagiso Kuypers). Solomon
surreptitiously finds a huge diamond, buries it, and escapes. Danny
finds out about it and links up with him and Maddy. Each has different
goals; Solomon wants to find his son, Maddy wants her story, and Danny
wants the diamond.
There are multiple story
lines in this film and each has a moral. One of the most compelling is
the story of how these brutal marauders, epitomized by Captain Poison
(David Harewood), who enslaves Dia, turn innocent young children into
cold-blooded killers. Dia starts out as a loving son who wants to be a
doctor. What happens to him is chilling and it happens every day in
Africa. It is estimated that there are 400,000 children who have been
converted into emotionless killers.
With this film, DiCaprio
should be recognized as one of the best American actors of his
generation, if not the best. He should be odds-on favorite for best
actor Oscar, for which I had already nominated him for his performance
in “The Departed.” No longer a callow youth, he creates an anti-hero in
the mold of Bogart and Newman, speaking in a southern African accent
with an authenticity that is beyond question.
The cinematography (Eduardo
Serra) is also Oscar-quality. The combat scenes, shot with hand-held
cameras, put the viewer right in the middle of the battle. Throughout,
Serra’s captivating photography shares star billing with DiCaprio.
Director Edward Zwick has
taken a first-rate script by Charles Leavitt and produced a high-energy,
tension-filled tale that tells a story along with educating people about
what is going on in the world, without question one of the most
entertaining films of the year.
December 7, 2006