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Emmys 2017
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Blood Diamond

Posted on

Blood Diamond: Jaap Buitendijk

Blood Diamond

Current Status:
In Season
143 minutes
Wide Release Date:
Jennifer Connelly, Leonardo DiCaprio, Djimon Hounsou
Edward Zwick
Warner Bros.
Charles Leavitt
Drama, ActionAdventure, Mystery and Thriller

We gave it an A

When an idealistic American journalist (Jennifer Connelly) lectures smuggler Danny Archer (Leonardo DiCaprio) about the horrors of the diamond trade in war-torn Sierra Leone, his half-hearted protest of ignorance (”I’m shocked”) would make Casablanca‘s Captain Renault smile (”I’m shocked! Shocked to find that gambling is going on in here!”) In fact, there’s a lot of 1940s Casablanca in 1990s Sierra Leone, where life is cheap and people are desperate to escape the path of war. In Blood Diamond, however, the ticket out isn’t treasured letters of transport, but treasure itself: a giant pink diamond discovered by a poor fisherman (Djimon Hounsou) in the rural slave mines that finance the civil war. Despite his Renault-esque outrage, Archer has more in common with Bogart’s Rick Blaine, a selfish rogue who sticks his neck out for no one. What’s so refreshing about this character, as written by Charles Leavitt, is that it never retreats from its rapacious tendencies, resisting saccharine displays of redemption. DiCaprio inhabits the shady character with a degree of masculine menace previously unknown to the Titanic heartthrob. ”It’s almost as if Leo holds his face in a different way,” says director Edward Zwick, in the rare commentary that actually enhances the viewing experience. ”A certain clench to his jaw. He’s got a certain kind of reserve that I’ve never seen in his performances before.”

The film’s epilogue informs that Sierra Leone is now at peace, and that 40 nations signed the Kimberley Process in 2003 to prohibit the sale of blood diamonds. The promising endnote is tragically undermined by ”Blood on the Stone,” a devastating 50-minute critique from Leonean journalist and film consultant Sorious Samura. Hidden cameras expose the ease with which smugglers still move illegal African diamonds to New York City display windows. If the film’s depiction of murder and mutilation aren’t convincing enough, maybe Samura’s undercover footage of unscrupulous New York dealers with stacks of cash better reinforces Connelly’s character’s claim that ”People wouldn’t buy a ring if they knew it cost someone else their hand.” A