Miles on Movies

Blood Diamond

reviewed by R. Miles Mendenhall

The critics are right. This thriller/adventure about the struggle to claim a rare diamond in the midst to the horror of Sierra Leone in the late nineties hits all the notes. Leonardo DiCaprio plays a jaded White African scheming and killing to get at the treasure. His exploitation and befriending of Djiman Hounsou’s anguished father who only wants to save his son, is a microcosm of white/black relations in the tragic history of the continent. Jennifer Connelly is radiant as ever as a feisty journalist who provides the humanitarian heart to the conflict.

My only complaint is that once again we see an action adventure that upholds the myth that in running through a hail of automatic weapons fire, one stands a chance of getting away alive. But that’s Hollywood.

Every other aspect of this film combines a kick-ass story with the basics of the conflict / blood diamond history and the savage effects of globalism on parts of post-colonial Africa. Of course the story is much more complex than a movie can relate. But as attempts go, this one succeeds.

The violence of rebel gangs of manipulated child soldiers is portrayed, the techniques of mind control and reprogramming of captured children for diabolic purposes are shown. And implausible as the story may be, there is a truth of the human spirit shown that makes up for the inadequacies of story-telling to capture the depth of what happened (and is happening for other prizes as I write in the Darfur region of western Sudan, eastern Chad, eastern Congo, Somalia, and dozens of other places not covered in even the most obscure alternative media.)

A side note, Hounsou’s character as a Mende fishermen in his idyllic pre-war life, reminded me of the practice of fishermen in Ghana who practice child indentured servitude, tantamount to slavery, that I read about in the Sunday New York Times a few weeks ago. But that is another story.

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