Volume 9, Issue 1 University of Houston
With rebel groups in the backdrop, film shows atrocities
in war-torn countries
by ROBYN MORROW
Blood Diamond follows two men on the hunt for a rare pink diamond in 1999 in Sierra Leone. Leonardo DiCaprio plays Danny Archer, an ex-mercenary from Zimbabwe who is thrown in prison when caught trying to smuggle diamonds into Libya. While in prison, Archer encounters Solomon Vandy (Djimon Hounsou), a fisherman who has lost his family to the Revolutionary United Front, an African rebel group.
After losing his family to the RUF, Vandy is forced to mine diamonds with other men who were torn from their homes. He finds the rare pink diamond but buries it to hide the treasure from his masters. When Archer discovers that Vandy knows the diamond’s location, he tries to persuade Vandy to help him find it. Archer hopes to use the diamond to buy his way out of Africa. Vandy wants to use the diamond to help his wife and daughters escape a refugee camp and reclaim his son, now a child soldier for the RUF.
Although each has different motives, they must work together to make their way safely across Africa to reclaim the diamond. On their adventure, Archer and Vandy encounter American journalist Maddy Bowen (Jennifer Connelly), who hopes to use Archer as a source in a story about conflict diamonds – diamonds sold during wartime to purchase arms.
In the film, director Edward Zwick explores the atrocities many Africans suffer during times of strife. Children are ripped from their parents’ loving arms and forced to ruthlessly shoot and kill other Africans in the name of revolution. Families are torn apart, some never to be reunited again.
Archer, determined to find the diamond at any cost, finds himself torn between helping Vandy rescue his family and finding the diamond to keep for his selfish needs. He must use Bowen to make his way across Africa with Vandy in tow. Bowen only agrees if Archer is willing to give up information on the London diamond corporation he sells his smuggled treasures to.
Throughout the film, Archer questions and confronts his morality with the help of Bowen and various characters the group encounters on their search for the diamond’s location. Although Archer distrusts Bowen’s motives, he soon comes to depend on her for moral guidance and support.
Viewers expecting a budding romance between Archer and Bowen may be disappointed. Although the two grow close, their lips never touch. By not establishing a romantic relationship between his two main characters, Zwick helps keep the focus of the film on the destruction caused by the buying and selling of conflict diamonds. Rather than depending on sex to sell his film, Zwick depends on three touching stories that keep audiences entertained and open their eyes to the atrocities taking place in Africa.
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