Blood Diamond: TIA, Jack! This Is Africa!

Blood Diamond Box ArtEdward Zwick makes films that tend to provoke thought – and yet, they are almost always entertaining, first and foremost. Blood Diamond is a rousing adventure that takes the buddy-movie formula and turns it into a life or death struggle and a commentary on the practice of smuggling diamonds to promote terrorism [among other things]. All in all, that’s not a bad day’s work. 

Blood Diamond Box Art

Boiled down to its essentials, Edward Zwick’s Blood Diamond is about two journeys: Danny Archer’s [Leonard DiCaprio] quest to find a “pink,” or blood diamond in order to buy his way out of Africa, and Solomon Bo’s [Djimon Hounsou] quest to find and get his son away from the R.U.F. [who’ve kidnapped him and brainwashed him into becoming a child soldier].

Of course, nothing is quite that simple, so we also get a look at the violence that nearly destroyed Sierra Leone in 1999, when rebel thugs were stealing children to add to their ranks so that they could take over, if not the country, it’s diamond-producing mines. As director Zwick mentions in his commentary, the violence shown onscreen is barely the merest reflection of what actually went on during that period.

Why did the rebels want to control the diamond traffic? The money from diamond sales paid to supply them with weapons, food, medicines, and so on. Once they were well supplied, they could take over more of the country. And where did they sell the diamonds? Well, the United States is one of the largest markets for diamonds in the world. That engagement ring – even today – could be supplying terrorists and power-hungry would-be tyrants.

To add a little extra spice to the twin journeys of Jack and Solomon, there is the presence of a beautiful print journalist named Maddy [Jennifer Connolly], who may seem more than a bit out of her element – and more than a little too glamorous – but represents many female journalists who did go to Africa and did act and dress in much that way. Of course, Maddy is also the film’s one notable weak spot, being used for exposition more than any one other thing.

Blood Diamond - DiCaprio & Hounsou

There’s so much going on in Blood Diamond that it’s almost impossible to work out a suitable plot summary – beyond the journeys of Jack and Solomon – that won’t take way too much space. It’s that kind of sprawling, complex adventure. The important thing is that the film works as a rousing adventure even without the various controversies it includes in its plot, yet makes its points about its various messages without coming off as preachy.

When you consider that both DiCaprio and Hounsou were nominated for Oscars

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