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Because I lived in Sierra Leone, in fact in Kono, the diamond-mining area of the country, for three years, I had to see Blood Diamond as soon as it came out. It is an excellent movie. Although it was not filmed in Sierra Leone, it captures the reality of the country to a remarkable degree. There is a great deal of violence in this movie, but that violence is organic, realistic, fitting to what happened there. They even manage to convey the fact that the people are as astonished by this violence as we are; Sierra Leone used to be one of the safest countries in the world. The movie tells the facts about conflict diamonds quickly and accurately. DiCaprio's performance is impressive, certainly the best by him I've ever seen: he is totally believable as a white African. Jennifer Connelly's role is much smaller but she makes the most of it. Djiman Housou has enormous physical presence as the brave Mende fisherman. This movie just gets so many things right that the few places it departs from reality are entirely forgivable. I would heartily recommend this movie to everyone; it is the best Hollywood movie I've seen in years.
Leonardo DiCaprio has become one of the premiere American actors. With
a set of natural instincts that lends a non-showy, believable quality
to all of his performances, versatility, and movie star size charisma
that fills up the screen and emotionally hooks the viewer into his
character and story, it is hard to think of another male American actor
(with the exception of Johnny Depp) who is consistently giving an
audience its money worth; these two gentleman have taken the reins from
Tom Hanks and Denzel Washington, as those two Oscar-winning future
legends of the silver screen gracefully age into more mature roles.
In Blood Diamond, it is Mr. DiCaprio's performance that raises this film above it's standard Hollywood fare of a script (although it is a solid script) into something memorable. His performance here as an opportunistic diamond smuggler equals that of the one he gave earlier in the fall as "Billy Costigan" in The Departed, although the two characters couldn't be more different from each other. It may be his best performance yet, and in terms of sheer charisma and memorability it certainly rivals his mega-star making performance as "Jack Dawson" in Titanic.
I liked Blood Diamond a great deal, but do not think it is a great film. A good movie? Yes. Very mainstream and formulaic, but it is raised up quite a bit by DiCaprio's character and his terrific realization of it. If I had read this script beforehand, I never would have thought of Leo for this role- possibly George Clooney or some other star known for "roguish charm," but not Leo. But now, having seen it, I can't imagine anybody else as "Danny Archer;" it is a fully realized, winning performance.
Mr. Hounsou was wonderful as well, and I liked the chemistry between the two men in their scenes together. He was able to make the audience feel the gamut of emotions his character experiences during the course of the movie- pride and hope, fear, outrage, resignation, mistrust, desperation, and determination, and beautifully rises above the somewhat limiting way his role was written.
I thought Ms. Connelly did as good a job as possible in her role as "the idealistic journalist who wants to make a difference." Her part was just a larger version of Joaquin Phoenix's in Hotel Rwanda. As always, I find she brings a certain dignity and intelligence to her performances and does not allow her incredible beauty to overshadow her acting. I thought she and Leo worked wonderfully together, as well, and along with Mr. Hounsou they make an engaging trio you can't help rooting for.
In comparing it to other recent films about Africa, I didn't think this was quite as good as as Hotel Rwanda, but better than The Interpreter, The Constant Gardener, and The Last King of Scotland. I felt an emotional engagement with the characters I didn't experience in the latter three films. I found the script allowed my care for the characters to grow as the story progressed, and was not overly manipulative. At times it veered too much into standard action movie territory, with much violence and many "close calls" but would then be brought back into the realm of compelling human drama by a wonderfully acted, intimate scene.
After reading some early negative comments, I was pleasantly surprised at my response to it. Compelling characters and the skillful use of a truly gripping global issue as the plot line make this a satisfying viewing experience- one that I would happily see again.
Since there is very little in the negative column, let me disperse with
it first: 'Blood Diamond' might fairly be accused of 'bleeding heart
syndrome' (more on that in a bit), has a few minor pacing issues and
seems unsure with how to end. The ending that they chose extends the
film too far, seems forced and is tacked on. The more natural ending is
on the mountainside -- you'll know what I mean when you see it. Those
things said, the positives are much greater and this film showcased two
towering performances. Djimon Hounsou is nothing short of incredible
and I'd be astonished if he isn't considered at Oscar time. Secondly,
although I've had little patience for him before, Leonardo DiCaprio has
really impressed me this year. With his performances in 'The Departed'
and now 'Blood Diamond,' I think I need to reappraise my own biases
against him. I'm becoming a fan.
Some of the early reviews that I read painted 'Blood Diamond' as hysterical left-winger cause-head paradise. They suggest that the conflict diamond situation has been exaggerated and completely distorted. I don't know if that is the case. The film makes a compelling case but I don't base my political and economic decisions on films that I watch. My interest here was to see how characters would respond to adversity and a terrible, horrifyingly dark situation. The political agenda of the film isn't as cloyingly bombastic as I was afraid it might be. This is a film that, while concerned with the political situation in Africa, focuses more on how the obsessive search for a large, rare pink diamond consumes those who get too close to it.
DiCaprio is excellent as a Rhodesian (HIS description) mercenary and arms dealer working in Sierra Leone. Hounsou is a fisherman who gets drawn into the civil war raging around him and discovers a pink diamond that could save -- or destroy -- both he and his family. Jennifer Connelly plays a journalist trying to discover if a huge multi-national diamond company is knowingly in the market for conflict diamonds. Jennifer Connelly seems to get the worst of the dialogue. When told that Americans are in part to blame for conflict diamonds she responds with a line about 'not all girls want a fantasy wedding.' It makes her look naive at best and silly at worst. She generally manages to save the character from either of those fates though and also manages to avoid self-righteousness when dealing with some of the films more morally flexible characters. Hounsou is great and the desperation in his character as he tries to find his family crackles on the screen. He is cagey and understands what he needs to do to survive. His character is not above playing servile if that will keep him alive. And when provoked to violence, the result was absolutely chilling. In much smaller roles are Arnold Vosloo as a mercenary Colonel, Stephen Collins as a diplomat and Michael Sheen as an executive at a diamond company. Excellent performances all around.
Is 'Blood Diamond' judgemental? I think that is the wrong question. The film is a character study both of all the men pursuing the pink diamond and what effect it has on them, but it is also a character study of Africa. Tragic and heartsick, 'Blood Diamond' is drenched with cynicism and defeatism. Why is there misery and exploitation? "TIA," explains DiCaprio to Connelly, "This Is Africa." In contrast to a film like 'Traffic,' 'Blood Diamond' doesn't wallow in hopelessness. Some of the characters might be cynical but the film itself does search for hope. The heart of the picture is the human cost. Characters see the wealth of the diamond and are destroyed by it. The film shares a great deal thematically with a film like 'Treasure of the Sierra Madre.' High praise for a high quality film.
I saw this on December 2nd in La Canada, CA @ a Sneak Preview...a week
before it opened nationwide. How do I express my utter satisfaction &
amazement with this film.
Take Leonardo DiCaprio's best performance over the last 15 years and multiply it by 10. He is mind-blowing. Awarding him an Oscar for Blood Diamond would not be a big enough compliment for the way he aced the role of Danny Archer.
The fabulous & flawless Charles Leavitt script is only enhanced by Ed Zwick's masterful directing job. Djimon Hounsou is perfectly cast and is more-than-believable when he wields a shovel.
And, Jennifer Connelly's understated elegance & expressiveness is captivating.
Put this movie at the top of your list.
I rate this a ten because I had the privilege of going to Sierra Leone
after the war and participate in one of the war crimes trials there at
the Special Court for Sierra Leone, created by the Sierra Leone
government with the United Nations.
In a bit more than two and a half hours, the writers and directors have to tell the story of the civil war, keep it concise yet true, and tell it through the eyes of a few participants. Because the story line is so true, and the acting, writing, directing, locations, people, and photography are all superior, I must admit prejudice toward such a high rating. My local reviewer gave it a B+.
My exposure to the civil war and only some of the events of this movie were based on reading books, hundreds of witness statements, online material about the war, including the Sierra Leone Truth and Reconciliation Report, and listening to over 100 witnesses testify, and my trial was not even those of the RUF and AFRC, the really bad actors of the war, as the movie shows, pulling no punches. The accounts of atrocities are shockingly real. Tens of thousands had hands amputated, people were indiscriminately murdered, women raped or forced to marry, villages were burned, and children were kidnapped and forced to fight the war for both of the rebel factions (RUF and AFRC). Making a child a soldier is a war crime, and this movie artfully shows you why, without saying a word about it.
Sherman said, about our own Civil War, that "War is hell." But, African civil war is far different and atrocious because it inevitably leads to atrocities.
This fine work, with Hotel Rwanda, stands out as a film seriously attempting to explain the atrocities that Africans somehow can do to themselves.
First I want to say I went into this movie with hopes of it being great but had heard numerous slams against the acting, mostly Leo's accent. Wow were they DEAD WRONG! The movie delivers everything it should have and more. I like going into a movie and being entertained and learning something at the same time, especially at the ridiculous costs of tickets now days. I must say the movie was graphic at times but I think it needed to be in order to get the point across so if you have trouble watching terrible things happen to people including children then I wouldn't recommend this movie. Overall I hope this movie gets some nods when it comes around to Oscar time, Leo deserves a nod for sure whether it be from this movie or from The Departed. So if you don't have a problem with violence and want to learn something and be entertained at the same time then this is the movie you want to see! Kudos to Ed Zwick and everyone involved in making this wonderful film, it was a real treat to watch.
The torturous road of South African diamonds to the greedy fingers of an indifferent world makes this new Edward Zwick movie one of the most powerful Action/Adventure/Dramas to come out of Hollywood in a long time. The perfect balance between entertainment and a thoughtful social commentary helps the center of the story to have a real heart and a palpable respect for us, the audience. All this praise and I still have not mentioned Leonardo Di Caprio or Djimon Hounsou but I'm going to. Di Caprio opens a new door, introducing us to a character who is a first in his already extraordinary career. He startled us as a very young man with "What's Eating Gilbert Grape" before he fell with a serious case of Titanictis. Now, after a three a long and serious Scorsese cures, this spectacular actor makes me believe that we haven't seen anything yet. Remarkable. As remarkable as the soulful Djimon Hounsou who manages to give the film a visible soul. I was moved and yes, I must admit, surprised. Apart from the visual and interpretative prowess of "Blood Diamond" there is a realistic view of a third world country as shattering as the unforgettable one in "City Of God" Don't miss it.
A few years back I had the pleasure of visiting Antwerp, Belgium, a
place many deem "the diamond capital of the world." Never before or
since have I been in a location where I was surrounded by so much
"bling". Storefronts had so many diamonds on display you would think
they should be better kept in some European version of Fort Knox.
The film Blood Diamond puts an entirely new spin on Antwerp, the diamond industry and that pricey stone you might be wearing around your neck, on your ring finger, or in your ears (mine are cubic-Zs). Set in the West African country of Sierra Leone during the 1990s, this historical-adventure-drama covers a time when the country was in turmoil. Warlords, smugglers and the diamond syndicate all play roles in a refugee exodus, and the killing and enslaving of men to work the diamond fields. The title refers to diamonds which are harvested, smuggled and traded to finance the purchase of weapons used in Civil War.
Solomon Vandy (Djimon Hounsou) stars as a fisherman who has his family torn apart and instead of being killed, is sent to work mining diamonds where he finds and hides a large stone. Danny Archer (Leonardo DiCaprio) a former mercenary, diamond-smuggler, middleman, you-name-it, is looking to score with that stone and exit the business for good. Writer Maddy Bowen (Jennifer Connelly) is tired of writing shallow stories about less than newsworthy events; she is looking for information about major players in the diamond trade. They all come together in a fast paced, adventure packed piece of film-making that is brutal at times but never boring. The film has a pleasant, unanticipated ending, something hard to pull off in a film of this kind.
Director/Producer Edward Zwick is probably the best in Hollywood at taking a big budget feature film with a historical theme and carefully relay a message without lecturing his audience. His earlier works include a story of the first all-black U.S. Civil War company in "Glory" a film, which resulted in Denzel Washington winning his first Oscar. Zwick takes credit for works like The Last Samurai, Shakespeare in Love, Traffic and Courage Under Fire. He is second to no one when it comes to balancing a historical event with action-drama entertainment. Edward Zwick is one of few L.A. directors who still works within the Hollywood establishment yet is able to put out good quality film.
Check out Blood Diamond, your "bling" may never look the same again.
What does it take to turn someone into a killer? The answer is
different for each character involved in this movie. For some it is
survival. For others it is the hope of escape from a life of hell. For
some it is family. For others it is greed. Caught in the middle of it
all are the children who have such little desire to kill for any reason
that they must be brainwashed into becoming the instruments of their
masters who claim to offer freedom.
Every few years an action movie comes along that has amazing depth. Terminator 2 and The Matrix are such movies, and so is Blood Diamond. It is full of characterizations we've seen before, but it's the interaction that raises this film above the masses. Each character has an agenda that forces him or her to distrust everyone else. The paths that some relationships take to develop trust are believable, while others are equally believable in remaining eternally antagonistic. And through it all is the realization that while some characters may change their methodology and morals, none ever change their dreams. Each character fights for the goal to the bitter end. Such is human nature, and such is the conflict of Blood Diamond, the conflict of Africa. In the end, we are left to wonder if peace can ever be attained in such a world. And somehow we are left believing that maybe it can.
"Blood Diamond" is the kind of action film that makes you think that 'a
moment of love, even in a bad man, can give meaning to a life...'
The film opens in Sierra Leone, 1999 when Civil war rages for control of the diamond fields According to devastating reports, these stones are being used with both rebels and government forces to purchase more weapons and finance civil war
Danny Archercrazy for diamonds like everybody elsebelieves this pink gem holds his ticket out of this godforsaken continent He is a smuggler, a former mercenary and weapons trader from Zimbabwe who bribes all, and supplies arms to both sides He gets Solomon Vandycaptured by government troopsout of jail only because he overhears that the fisherman might have found a clear massive stone about the size of a bird's egg
Vandyforced apart from his family and sent off to work as a slave in the minefieldshas hided the enormous 100 carat diamond from his captors and buried it in a secret place within the jungle His son Dia is taking away by a brainwashing militia called the Revolutionary United Front (RUF) turning him with lies, drugs, and liquor, into a cold-blooded murderer
Danny makes a deal to help the noble fisherman find his family if Vandy will lead him to the diamond The majority of the story is their journey across the war torn country
Leonard DiCaprio is both ruthless and charming as the cynical soldier of fortune who knows an opportunity when it presents itself But he also is aggressive and selfish willing to do whatever it takes to get what he wants He illustrates the black side of the dirty diamond trade On his trek to find the stone, Archer's eyes are opened to some enduring values that surpass his own self-profit
Djimon Hounsou eventually realizes that Danny's connections and money are his only hope He plays a helpless character totally passionate as the resolving and fiercely determined father desperate to learn the fate of his family
Connelly is an idealist who wishes to display corruption She thinks that with Archer's help she can get a unique story line surrounding the civil war but also revealing corporate malfeasance and cover-up behind the diamond trade
It is also good to mention Arnold Vosloo in the role of Colonel Coetzee, head of the army unit also trying to claim the diamond He's a great character actor and remains a powerful presence and one of the screen's most efficient scene-stealer
Nominated for five Oscars, "Blood Diamond" is an action, political adventure at its best!
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