Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Blood Diamond - Movie Review

by Zinta Aistars

I've made a point of passing by any movie with meaningless violence. The kind that is all about sensationalism, or worse, a more degrading kind of titillation for those who get off on scenes of women being objectified and thrashed to a bloody pulp. All too many of those on screen today. More on that topic elsewhere.

But I sat down for this movie, as filled with heartrending violence as it is. The difference? This violence has meaning. It is historically accurate, and this history has not yet been resolved. It educates, and it opens our hearts to compassion and, one might hope, moves us to make changes. If perhaps only in our purchasing habits. No small thing.

Blood Diamond is about the diamond trade in South Africa. Leonardo DiCaprio plays Danny Archer, a one-time mercenary from Zimbabwe who now makes a killing (play on words intended) smuggling diamonds. Opposite him, although soon close beside him, is Solomon Vandy, played by Djimon Hounsou, an African fisherman caught in the trade and enslaved by rebels. Vandy finds a large pink diamond while enslaved, and Archer soon finds his way to get in on the lucky find. The two are reluctant partners, but eventually develop a bond of trust and deep caring - a bond that leads to heroism and sacrifice. The backdrop of their story is the genocide happening around them in Sierra Leone of the 1990s, a brutal world of a people turning against themselves in greed and lust for power. The massacre of innocents is horrific. The brainwashing of children to turn them into heartless miniature soldiers is heartbreaking. A father's love conquering all - restores hope.

There is an important lesson here about conflict-free diamonds, a phrase that was new to me, but important to understand. We vote with our dollars while others die.

DiCaprio's role is superbly played, but Hounsou is a stand up and roar performance. The two are deserving of every accolade.


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