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Blood Diamond

A promotional film poster for
Blood Diamond
Directed by Edward Zwick
Produced by Mike Ockslong
Marshall Herskovitz
Graham King
Paula Weinstein
Edward Zwick
Written by Charles Leavitt
Starring Leonardo DiCaprio
Djimon Hounsou
Jennifer Connelly
Michael Sheen
Arnold Vosloo
Music by James Newton Howard
Cinematography Eduardo Serra
Editing by Steven Rosenblum
Distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures
Virtual Studios
Release date(s) United States:
December 8, 2006
Australia:
January 4, 2007
United Kingdom:
January 26, 2007
Japan:
April 7, 2007
Running time 143 minutes
Country United States
Germany
Language English, Mende, Krio, Afrikaans
Budget $100,000,000
Gross revenue $171,405,846

''Blood Diamond'' is a 2006 action/adventure film co-produced and directed by Edward Zwick starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Jennifer Connelly and Djimon Hounsou. The title refers to blood diamonds, which are diamonds mined in African war zones and sold to finance the conflicts and profit the warlords and the diamond companies across the world. The film was nominated for five Academy Awards including Best Actor (DiCaprio) and Best Supporting Actor (Hounsou).

Contents

Plot

Set during Sierra Leone Civil War in 1996-1999, the film shows a country torn apart by the struggle between government soldiers and rebel forces.[1] The film portrays many of the atrocities of that war, including the rebels' amputation of people's hands to discourage them from voting in upcoming elections.

The film begins with the capture of Solomon Vandy (Djimon Hounsou), a Mende fisherman, by the Revolutionary United Front (RUF) rebels when they invade the small Sierra Leonian village of Shenge. Separated from his family, Solomon is enslaved to work in the diamond fields under the command of a Warlord called Captain Poison (David Harewood) while his son Dia is conscripted into the rebel forces, the brainwashing eventually turning him into a hardened killer. The RUF use the diamonds to fund their war effort, often trading them directly for arms. While working in the RUF diamond fields as a forced laborer, Solomon finds a large, pink diamond inside a big, broken pipe in the diamond fields. Claiming that he must go to the toilet, Solomon hides the diamond between his toes to try and sneak it away to bury it. However, moments before government troops launch an attack, Captain Poison sees Solomon hiding the diamond. Captain Poison is injured in an attack by government forces before he can get the stone, and both he and Solomon are taken to prison in Freetown, the capital of Sierra Leone.

Danny Archer (Leonardo DiCaprio), a white Rhodesian mercenary, trades arms for diamonds with an RUF commander. He is imprisoned after being caught smuggling the diamonds into neighboring Liberia, and the diamonds are confiscated. He had been transporting the diamonds to an Afrikaner mercenary named Colonel Coetzee (Arnold Vosloo), who is in turn employed by South African diamond company executive Van de Kaap (Marius Weyers) and his deputy Simmons (Michael Sheen). Coetzee is Archer's former commander in 32 Battalion, the most decorated unit of the South African Border War, made up of Angolan and Rhodesian soldiers and white South African officers. Archer is desperate for a way to repay Colonel Coetzee for the diamonds taken from him when he was arrested and thrown in jail, in the same prison as the fisherman. While in prison, he overhears Captain Poison ranting to Solomon about the discovery of the large diamond and decides to hunt down the stone. He arranges for Solomon's release from prison and offers to help him find his family in exchange for the diamond.

Archer and Solomon find their way to Maddy Bowen (Jennifer Connelly), an American journalist, who helps Solomon track down his family. Bowen soon learns that Archer is using Solomon to find his diamond and will eventually steal it for himself, to leave Africa forever. Bowen, a humanitarian, refuses to help Archer unless he can tell her about the diamond market to stop the flow of blood diamonds out of Africa, cutting off funding for Civil War and ending a mass revolution. Archer gives Bowen the information that she wants and gets access to use the press convoy to travel to Kono to find the diamond. The RUF then launches a massive assault on Freetown, the capital of Sierra Leone, and crushes the government forces present, forcing Danny and Solomon to steal away from the city at night.

After their escape, Danny and Solomon find their way to Maddy's camp and board the convoy. The convoy is attacked and the remaining news teams are killed while Archer, Solomon and Bowen escape and find their way to the South African mercenary force under Colonel Coetzee. There they learn of the attack force preparing to retake Sierra Leone—a reference to the actual 1995 hiring of South African security firm Executive Outcomes by the provisional government of Sierra Leone. The two men leave the camp on foot (after stealing many provisions for their journey), while Bowen boards a plane carrying foreigners out of the conflict zone. While treking through the jungle to try and get away from Coetzee's forces, Solomon believes he sees his son, Dia, on the back of a RUF transport truck. He almost gets himself and Danny killed when he calls out to get Dia's attention. They get away and eventually the men reach the mining camp in a river valley, still under RUF control, where Solomon discovered and buried the large diamond. Here, Solomon is painfully reunited with his son Dia, who refuses to acknowledge him because he has been brainwashed by the rebels. Solomon is also reunited with Captain Poison, who orders him to find the diamond, but the South African mercenary force, also after the diamond, dispatches the RUF rebels in a massive air strike via an Mi-24 Gunship, which kills many of the RUF rebels and some of the miners. Amidst the chaos, Solomon kills Poison with a shovel. Through a deal with Archer, Colonel Coetzee forces Solomon to retrieve the stone. In a desperate attempt to save both their lives, Archer attacks Coetzee and the other two soldiers after realizing that they would have killed him, Solomon, and Dia upon locating the diamond. While Solomon knocks the Colonel's gun out of his hand, Archer manages to kill both soldiers and then Coetzee. As Archer overturns a body to take equipment he realizes he has been shot in the side of his chest, but keeps this to himself. At this point Dia holds Archer and Solomon at gunpoint with a pistol, but, after an emotional talk, Solomon manages to convince him of his own retained innocence and Dia agrees to return home with him.

Having arranged in advance for a plane to pick him up, Danny radios to the pilot, Nabil (Jimi Mistry), who demands that he dump Solomon and Dia. Slowly and painfully the group makes its way from the valley towards an airstrip atop a nearby ridge. Archer collapses, the bullet having punctured his lung and leaving him unable to breathe well as he continues to lose blood. Unable to climb, Solomon carries him a little way before Archer asks Solomon to put him down. Knowing that he is dying, he tells him to take Dia home and gives them back the diamond he had demanded earlier. Archer holds off the mercenaries chasing them with his rifle while Solomon and Dia flee, and then makes a final phone call to Bowen, asking her to help Solomon as a last favor before looking out over the beautiful landscape of Africa once more and dying peacefully.

Solomon travels to London and, with the help of Bowen, he trades the diamond to Simmons for £2,000,000 and the reunification of his family, making the exchange as Solomon's wife and children arrive via a Lear Jet at a London airport. Bowen, who secretly photographs the deal, later publishes a magazine piece exposing the trade in "conflict" or "blood" diamonds. The film ends with Solomon smiling at the photograph Maddy took of Archer earlier, now published in her magazine along with the complete story of their journey, before addressing a conference on blood diamonds in Kimberley, South Africa, describing his experiences. This refers to an actual meeting that took place in Kimberley in 2000 and led to the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme, which seeks to certify the origin of diamonds in order to curb the trade in conflict diamonds.

Controversies

When the plot of the film became public, De Beers, the South African diamond mining and trading company, maintained that the trade in conflict diamonds had been reduced from 4% to 1% of total purchases by the Kimberley Process. De Beers denied a suggestion that the company had pushed for the film to contain a disclaimer to the effect that the events it portrayed were fictional and outdated.[2]

More recently, the New York Post reported that Warner Bros. Pictures had promised that 27 child and teenage film extras who were amputees would receive prosthetics once the film shoot was done.[2] Several months after the completion of filming, however, the prosthetics had not been supplied, and the studio reportedly told the amputees they had to wait until the December 2006 release of the film to maximize a public relations boost. In the meantime, the private charity Eastern Cape assisted in supplying prosthetics to the amputees.[2]

These allegations were countered by an article in L.A. Weekly, which stated that Warner Bros. had not promised the prosthetics, but that the cast and crew raised between $200,000 and $400,000 to begin a "Blood Diamond Fund," which was then matched by Warner Bros. and "administered by a Maputo-based international accountancy firm under the supervision of Laws and João Ribeiro, the production managers in Mozambique."[3]

Trivia

The soundtracks featured in the film also include the song "Solemn Prayer", with vocals by legendary Pakistani Qawwal Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan.

Reception

Blood Diamond was released to somewhat positive reviews from both critics and audiences. The review congregator site Rotten Tomatoes shows a 63% rating, with 127 favorable reviews out of 203, and an average rating of 6.4/10.[4] Richard Roeper gave the film four stars, calling for it to be nominated for an Oscar for Best Picture. Some critics complained that the film was released in the midst of an upsurge in mass media publicity about the conflict-diamond trade and Sierra Leone,[citation needed] including a song by rapper Kanye West entitled "Diamonds from Sierra Leone," a VH1 documentary about conditions in Sierra Leone called Bling, and the Andrew Niccol film Lord of War starring Nicolas Cage.

DVD

The DVD was released in Region 1 format on March 20, 2007. Both a single-disc and a two-disc version are available. High Definition versions on HD DVD and Blu-ray have also been released with an R rating in the USA and a rating of MA in Australia.

See also

References

External links

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