Monday, October 30, 2006

Blood Diamonds: Sierra Leone meets Hollywood

Cast and Credits

Studio: Warner Bros. Pictures Director: Edward Zwick Starring: Leonardo DiCaprio, Jennifer Connelly, Djimon Hounsou, Arnold Vosloo, Stephen Collins, Michael Sheen

release dates

USA: december 18, 2006 UK: january 26, 2007

The Plot

Set against the backdrop of the chaos and civil war that enveloped 1990s Sierra Leone, Blood Diamond is the story of Danny Archer (Leonardo DiCaprio), a South African mercenary, and Solomon Vandy (Djimon Hounsou), a Mende fisherman. Both men are African, but their histories and their circumstances are as different as any can be—until their fates become joined in a common quest to recover a rare pink diamond that can transform their lives.

While in prison for smuggling, Archer learns that Solomon—who was taken from his family and forced to work in the diamond fields—has found and hidden the extraordinary rough stone. With the help of Maddy Bowen (Jennifer Connelly), an American journalist whose idealism is tempered by a deepening connection with Archer, the two men embark on a trek through rebel territory. More than a search for a valuable diamond, the journey could save Solomon's family and give Archer the second chance he thought he would never have.


The Times online

(...)At a mining conference in Cape Town, Jonathan Oppenheimer, head of the company’s South African operations, warned that the movie could undermine efforts to maintain the image of its diamonds as “untarnished and ethical”. Oppenheimer said that a recent global trade agreement called the Kimberley Process, which seeks to authenticate the origins of the £500m of new stones sold each year, had curbed the number of conflict diamonds, but warned that the film could undo much of its positive effect. (read full article)


(...)Zwick, who I've never rated particularly highly as a director, injects the whole thing with genuine excitement and adrenaline. There are several action setpieces that are truly spectacular, and he manages to keep the focus tightly on the action and adventure while resisting the temptation to turn the whole thing in to a PBS documentary on the horrors of West African child soldiers. Special note has to go the three leads. Di Caprio, following the excellent 'The Departed' delivers what could possibly be an even better performance. Not only does he manage to pull off the South African accent without a hitch, but he even manages to speak in pidgin English at one point without generating embarrassed snickers from the audience – no mean feat. (...) (read full article)

Yahoo Movies

It's difficult to guage how aware Americans are of what the rest of the world is going through, especially the atrocities sometimes occurring in the Third World. The cynical stereotype is that they aren't aware at all, and that's probably true, even though if you watch international news regularly (which, duh, few Americans do), you can't escape reports of things like, in the case of the subject of this film, the child armies and brutal mining operations of Africa. So, if they won't switch their TV channels or read newspapers, maybe movies can sometimes open peoples' eyes, and I guess that's what maybe this movie might do. I can't help but be reminded that it was Ed Zwick who made 'The Siege' about terrorist attacks on New York City way back in 1998 when it was sort of dismissed by some as paranoid fiction. Ha. Anyway, the cast is top-notch, Zwick is an accomplished director (I'll let that "Tom Cruise is a samurai" movie slide : ), and the subject is complex and intriguing. (read more)


The De Beers Corporation who controls the vast majority of the diamond trade has expressed its reservations that the movie will reduce public demand for diamonds. De Beers maintains that the trade in conflict diamonds has been reduced from 4% to 1% by the Kimberley Process and it has been suggested that the company pushed for the movie to contain a disclaimer saying the events are fictional and in the past. The DeBeers diamond cartel has denied making any such demand. More recently, the New York Post has reported that Warner Bros. had promised 27 child and teenage amputee extras for the film prosthetics upon completion of filming. Several month after the completition of filming the prosthetics had not been supplied, and it was reported that the studio told amputees that they would wait until the December release of the film to maximize the publicity boost. In the meantime a private charity has had to step-in and asist in supplying prosthetics to the amputees. The film comes in the midst of an upsurge in public awareness of the conflict diamond trade, also highlighted in the media by rapper Kanye West in his song "Diamonds from Sierra Leone", a VH1 documentary about current conditions in Sierra Leone called "Bling", and a book-length expose called "The Heartless Stone".


Global Witness

Amnesty International

Human Rights

Diamonds evolving market