Sunday, December 15, 2019

Review of "Blood Diamond," DVD widescreen edition

Review of

Blood Diamond, DVD widescreen edition

Five out of five stars

 Brutal conflicts over natural resources have been a fundamental component of African life for several generations. Fueled by the western need for resources, most of the combatants have been Africans that have claimed the same national allegiance. The companies and governments of the western nations understand how the battles are being carried out and the level of human carnage, but generally are only interested in maintaining the production.

 The setting is the African nation of Sierra Leone in 1999, when there was an outbreak of a brutal civil war. Men and boys are forcibly recruited by rebel groups to work in the diamond mines and any attempt to steal a diamond leads to execution. The armed groups regularly enter villages suspected of allegiance to the other side and shoot down innocents, rape the women and will cut off the limbs of children in order to make a point.

 Leonardo di Caprio plays Danny Archer, a Rhodesian veteran of the wars in Southern Africa and now a diamond smuggler. Djimon Hounsou plays Solomon Vandy, a fisherman in a village of Sierra Leone when the civil war breaks out in earnest. A rebel group attacks his village and while his wife and youngest children manage to escape, Vandy is captured and forced to work in the diamond mines. He discovers a monstrous stone and when he is about to be forced to turn it over to his overlord, government troops attack and Solomon manages to bury the stone before being captured.

 Archer has been arrested while attempting to smuggle diamonds across the border between Sierra Leone and Liberia and ends up in the same prison as Vandy. This is the spark of an unlikely alliance between the two men. Archer is a man that is at times as ruthless as the people he is fighting, yet he does retain a spark of humanity. The remainder of the story has the two men on a hunt to recover the diamond by any means necessary.

 The violence in the movie is significant, but it does genuinely reflect what was going on in Africa at the time. Entire villages were being wiped out, children were being impressed into armed groups to serve as ruthless soldiers and the diamond companies mostly stood back unless they considered it necessary to send in their mercenary units. The best aspect of the movie is that it genuinely reflects what took place in Africa.

 One of the best lines in the movie references the historical fact that the Belgian controllers of the Congo implemented a policy of cutting off the hands of workers in order to keep them terrified and working. Given that a bounty for scalps has been a part of law of the European based governments in the United States for centuries, the point is that the acts of barbarism towards enemies has a lot of European origins.

 This is a movie that entertains and educates and should be viewed in classes that cover the colonization and how corporations operate in countries unable to resist them.

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