Exploiting Africa: the murky ethics of Blood Diamond
Like some real-life social injustice with your
Danny is a pleasantly amoral, gun-dealing mercenary from
I imagine DiCaprio was drawn to this role because his character can still be pleasantly roguish even as the rest of the film wears its social conscience on his sleeve. With his devil-may-care grin and wily charm, Danny runs into Maddy Bowen (Jennifer Connelly) in a bar. It turns out that she is an American journalist, so they carry on an uneasy flirtation until Danny confronts Solomon with the offer to reunite his family if he shows him the diamond. Solomon initially resists the idea, but it just so happens that the rebels are in the midst of trying to take over the country, so the two “partners” have to dodge machine gun fire and escape the capitol before it explodes in partisan fighting.
Up until this point, I liked the film well enough. I found it thought-provoking and nicely critical of American news journalism that at the time was more concerned with
Studio executives know that violence and movie stars sell movies, but audiences are used to emotionally disconnecting themselves from the many expendable people getting shot. Like Danny Archer, Blood Diamond wants to play it both ways, so, in spite of the excellent work of the actors, I ultimately found the film too emotionally manipulative and hypocritical. The 2 hour plus film builds to one last hike through the wilderness to find the diamond, and the director couldn’t resist several tear-jerking climaxes with tight close-ups on actors learning to care for one another amidst the next spray of gunfire.
However, the film definitely makes one think before buying a nice diamond for someone for Christmas.