Directed by: Edward Zwick
Written by: Charles Leavitt
Starring: Leonardo DiCaprio, Jennifer Connelly, Djimon Hounsou, Michael Sheen, Arnold Vosloo
Whether on a ring, necklace, bracelet, earring, or any other form of accessory, diamonds have become a staple of American culture. They’re even needed for you to propose marriage to someone with the jewelry industry recommending someone spending six months of their annual salary on one. It’s part of our fabric, but the way it reaches our shores unsurprisingly comes with abuses of workers and innocent people. Blood Diamond attempts to show the impact of the business in Africa in harrowing detail.
Fisherman Solomon Vandy (Djimon Hounsou) gets dragged into working for a drug lord to search for diamonds and ends up finding a valuable one. Instead of handing it over, he buries it, much to the chagrin of the warlord. Now that his son has been taken away, he must work with Danny Archer (Leonardo DiCaprio) to find the diamond amid all of the invested and violent parties also interested.
Watching Leonardo DiCaprio do a South African accent fascinated me more than I ever thought it would, as he portrays a man who runs guns and sees the opportunity to find this diamond with Solomon as the opportunity to leave Africa. It begins the dangerous race to retrieve this item when heavily-armed units also have their eyes set to retrieve the diamond. This particular diamond is valuable, but I find it represents the state of the entire trade in Africa. You have the selfish parties and those forced to do it as a living.
Solomon must do the work at gunpoint and now sees it as his only hope to regain his son while the man holding the son wants it for the profits. Similarly, while Danny sees it as a form of escape, the mercenary group he’s in debt to see it as their form of revenue. It becomes almost an all-out war with these two men in the middle and a journalist named Maddy (Jennifer Connelly) attempting to expose it all. The film shows a large amount of violence because it’s the reality of what occurs in Africa with these hateful and money-obsessed men. They see the potential profit-margin for diamonds in other continents and have no issues using others to retrieve them and earn the revenue.
In a way, the film itself represents the work of the journalist Maddy, as they both highlight a trade currently happening now while people in Europe, Asia, and North America head to their local jewelers for fashion accessories. We’re all complicit in this harmful and violent system. Blood Diamond does not let us forget it and rightfully so.
The brightest spark of the feature is Djimon Hounsou, who must be one of the most underappreciated actors in Hollywood. He has taken on roles in so many popular films, always puts in a tidy performance, and seems to be forgotten until he appears again. Films on his resume include Gladiator, Guardians of the Galaxy, Shazam!, and Captain Marvel. With Blood Diamond, he gets the opportunity to be on the forefront and does not squander the opportunity. Being the emotional center, it allows the narrative to veer away from solely concentrating on two white folks finding love in Africa, which does happen regardless. Rather, it tells the story of one man attempting to save his son, which truly becomes the only scenario to care for. As good as DiCaprio and Connelly are in their roles, the story belongs to Hounsou and his sympathetic yet strong performance brings us closer to the most selfless person involved in this entire ordeal.
With plenty of political consciousness, Blood Diamond tells an effective and poignant story of a trade, which causes pain for some and represents luxury for others. It serves as an indictment of greed and the damage men are willing to inflict in the name of profits and commanding others in the process. The injustices happen by corporations, militias, and even the common man. Hounsou’s Solomon serves as truly the only person to root for and the fixation on his story results in crafting a pulse-pounding, action-heavy announcement of the responsibility consumers have with the products they purchase.