Tuesday, February 06, 2007

This is a movie - not a film!

Ask, and you shall receive. And I received a good movie – message and all.

Blood Diamond is a long movie, no question (it clocks in at 2 hours, 18 minutes); but – the true sign of a good movie – I never once looked at my watch. Similar to Titanic, Blood Diamond sets a small, personal tale inside a big, almost un-fathomable story – and both stories are the better for the pairing.

The intertwined stories of the journalist, Danny Archer (played by that veteran of epic movies, Leonardo DiCaprio) and the father, Solomon Vandi (played by the mesmerizing Djimon Hounsou) play out against a heartbreaking depiction of civil war, oppression and child soldiery (I’m not sure that’s a word – but if child labor and child slavery are, child soldiery should be too. On further thought, it would be a much better world if none of those three phrases existed).

Blood Diamond isn’t always easy to watch, but it is impossible to look away from. The chemistry between DiCaprio and Hounsou drives the plot forward relentlessly, and it is a good plot – maybe a bit farfetched, maybe a bit convenient, but gripping nonetheless. And it does serve the film-makers’ purpose of elucidating the terrible, terrible plight of a country torn apart in every which way.

The internal strife of civil war and hopeless politics battling the external pressure of the unceasing demands of the industries feeding our (yes, our) consumer and consumption-centric society is nothing less than heart-breaking. The transformation of young boys – soccer-playing, normal boys – into numb, mindless shooting machines is horrific. The image of the boys, toting guns nearly as long as they are tall, striding through the grass, shooting into a village - remorseless and uncaring - is indelible.

I've said it before, and I'll say it again, there is nothing good about war, about killing. In this story, as in every story, I'm sure there are a dozen sides to be told - and Blood Diamond, the movie, tells only one. But it's a pretty awful one at that - and I'd be hard-pressed to imagine another side to it that would provide a good reason for slaughtering so many people.

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