It’s a very big diamond, and a smuggler named Danny Archer (Leonardo DiCaprio), a white Rhodesian by birth and a former mercenary in Angola, wants it. In the capital city of Freetown, Maddy Bowen (Jennifer Connelly), a magazine reporter, tries to cozy up to Archer so that she can get the story of how the smuggling racket works.
Wishing things were otherwise.
Issue of 2006-12-11
Africa breaks your heart—that’s the simplest and most persistent emotion that bursts out of such recent films as “Hotel Rwanda,” “The Constant Gardener,” “The Last King of Scotland,” and, now, “Blood Diamond,” the best and most enjoyable of this cycle of movies set against the background of civil wars, ethnic conflict, and Western meddling and exploitation. The earlier films, whatever their considerable virtues, were so thoroughly suffused with guilt over the West’s role in Africa’s misery that they left you chastened and hanging your head. But “Blood Diamond,” written by Charles Leavitt, from an idea that he developed with C. Gaby Mitchell, and directed by Edward Zwick, is essentially a romantic adventure story with politics in the background—an old-fashioned movie, I suppose, but exciting and stunningly well made. In Sierra Leone, in 1999, a civil war, fuelled by the trade in “blood diamonds”—in which gems are smuggled out of the country and sold to European buyers for arms money—has been raging for years, tearing up the countryside and pulling families apart. Solomon Vandy (Djimon Hounsou), a fisherman, loses his son to the guerrilla army, the Revolutionary United Front, which press-gangs the boy into service. The R.U.F. also forces Solomon to work in the diamond fields, where he pulls a pink stone from the marshy waters. He buries it, but word gets around.