Nature covers the warriors' tracks with beauty as their stories become history..

Blood Diamond

An Illusion Review by Joan Ellis

        “Blood Diamond” may well be the most violent serious movie I have ever seen. Do not even think of seeing it unless you are fully prepared to endure wanton, random brutality by Africans to each other, and by international interlopers, smugglers, and sadists. That said, and it can’t be overstated, there are some real pluses for anyone who makes it through this overly long ordeal. Things mush up toward the end as if the filmmakers felt they owed us something for having stayed the course.

        The good things? A strong theme, for one. The greed and corruption of the diamond trade gives this movie its serious purpose. We recognize the accusations that the corporate diamond giant buys smuggled diamonds and hoards them in underground vaults in order to manipulate the market price. Why isn’t this the stuff of global outrage? Apparently, in fact and fiction, it is institutionalized corruption of long standing that accepts thousands of lost lives as the cost of doing business. This movie won’t do them any good.

        It is also a theme that allows the camera to whip through narrow jungle trails as it follows the story and then lift itself beyond the canopy to the glorious mountains of the bigger Africa – a reminder that we are dealing not just with brambles and civil war, but with natural glory perhaps unequalled on earth. As in all wars everywhere, people kill each other for several years, and then nature covers the warriors’ tracks with beauty as their stories become history.

        It’s time to forgive Leonardo DiCaprio for “Titanic.” Here he plays Danny Archer, an unredeemable diamond smuggler raised in Zimbawe, victimized by civil war, laser smart in the ways of smuggling diamonds to neighboring countries where they can be sold. And he plays him very well. The ill-gotten diamonds are called, of course, blood diamonds for the thousands of people killed for their worth.

        In the middle of all this violence, Danny and Maddy Bowen (Jennifer Connolly in a flawless performance), an edgy American journalist with the tongue of a cynic and the heart of an idealist meet, spar, respect, and finally love each other. It is a delicate thing, and very appealing. Each is tough to the core. The refreshing absence of sex leaves room for the development of attraction and respect. Their portrayal of the fictional pair is genuinely outstanding. Add to that Djimon Hounsou’s performance as Solomon Vandy who shows us the depth of human anguish and despair over innocent victims of barbarous murderers who overrun their lives, their villages, and their families. The cruelty is overwhelming, and it is shown, not suggested.

        The film breaks your heart over crushed innocence at the same time that it ignites your rage at corporate and personal corruption. It is just possible that young men and women who see this will decide that a diamond ring is not the best symbol of life together forever. Perhaps another stone will do.

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