Political Film Society - Blood Diamond

PFS Film Review
Blood Diamond


Blood Diamond`Directed by Edwark Zwick, Blood Diamond is a dramatization of one of the world’s worst human rights tragedies of the twenty-first century--the use of forced labor by rebels to extract diamonds in Sierra Leone in exchange for weapons. Various facts are presented during and in the final frames of the film to provide context: (1) In the Belgian Congo, colonial administrators hacked off every hundredth hand of Africans who were forced to mine diamonds. (2) Whenever sources of wealth were uncovered in Africa, from ivory to gold to oil to diamonds, thousands of Africans died. (3) From 1994-1999, some $5 billion in diamonds were exported from Liberia, a country with no known diamond deposits, because they were smuggled in from Sierra Leone. (4) Forced labor accounts for 15 percent of all diamonds sold today; 75 percent of all diamonds are purchased in the United States. (5) In 2002, an international conference developed the Kimberly Process, which requires certification that diamond sales have not been used to finance armed rebels. (6) Today, there are 200,000 child soldiers in Africa. The story focuses on the infrastructure of the diamond trade, from the workers in a stream in Sierra Leone to the purchasers in London. Solomon Vandy (played by Djimon Hounsou) is taking his son Dia (played by Kagiso Kuypers) to school one day, when rebels barge into his village, kidnap all the men, force the male children to be soldiers, burn all houses, and force the men to pan for diamonds. After Vandy tries to hide a sizeable diamond, he escapes from the mining encampment and eventually runs into Danny Archer (played by Leonardo Di Caprio), a White Rhodesian who fought in Angola on behalf of South Africa who has become a diamond smuggler in Sierra Leone. When Archer hears that Vandy has found a big one, he is eager to locate the gem. Archer also meets Maddy Bowen (played by Jennifer Connelly), a journalist, whose articles question the morality of the diamond trade; she points out that she needs such facts as bank account numbers that can implicate those involved. Archer and Vandy then accompany Bowen and other journalists in a trip to the diamond country. Although Archer seeks the diamond, Vandy is looking for his son, and Bowen departs before the trip becomes too hazardous for those who are unarmed. The love story is bittersweet, particularly at the end of the film. Although the film comes too late to stop the grisly diamond trade in its tracks, the Political Film Society has nominated Blood Diamond as best film on human rights of 2006, especially because the filmmakers have turned down a request for a disclaimer from the World Diamond Council, the industry’s chamber of commerce. MH

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