Cinema: Blood Diamond
During one of many heated exchanges in ‘Blood Diamond‘, campaigning journalist Maddy Bowen, played by the surprisingly irritating Jennifer Connelly, says to remorseless smuggler and mercenary Danny Archer that if the American people knew where the diamonds they sport on their fingers came from, they would soon stop wearing them. Strange then that they knowingly guzzle on oil bought from totalitarian regimes. And at the film’s close, we are told that since the end of the civil war in Sierra Leone forty countries have agreed that a certificate as to the origin and sourcing of diamonds sold in their respective jurisdictions have to be made available to purchasers in a system called the Kimberley Process. On foot of its introduction, the filmmakers would have us believe that illegal diamond smuggling is a thing of the past, which reminded me, at least, of the final statements in the Veronica Guerin film where the viewer was informed that in the wake of her murder, the drugs problem in Dublin was all but eradicated. Both propositions are patent bollix and give an indication as to the level of analysis director Ed Zwick and his team bring to bear on the civil war that destroyed Sierra Leone in the 1990’s.
Zwick was a producer on ‘thirty something’, the creepy US drama series of the early 90’s that was so full of hugging and learning and one can see that impulse here as Archer, played by an improbably accented though rather good Leonardo Di Caprio, is transformed, while in pursuit of a particularly priceless diamond, from being an amoral war profiteer to, pace George Bush , a ‘loving guy’. The wretched suffering of the people - hundreds of thousands killed, more maimed, rape used as a weapon of war- are pushed to one side as Archer is slowly redeemed. This may make sense for a mainstream Hollywood film but I thought it veered on the offensive. So too did the plot which was essentially an action adventure chase movie weirdly reminiscent of the ‘Jewel of the Nile’, jarring somewhat with the setting of the story in a country devastated by war. Played as a conventional thriller, ‘Blood Diamond’ would have been enjoyable hokum but setting it in Sierra Leone and preaching to the audience about the ethical buying of diamonds was a mistake