Thursday, May 10, 2007
Blood Diamond is a powerful, interesting, exciting movie, centered in Sierra Leone (a country on the south west of Africa), where the discovery of diamonds sets off a horrible civil war, motivated by the struggle to control the diamonds, the diamond trade, and the diamond $$$'s. As one character says... I just hope they never discover oil here.
Leonardo DiCaprio, nominated for an Oscar, is a diamond smuggler; Djimon Hounsou (also nominated), is a fisherman who discovers a huge pink diamond. Jennifer Connelly is a journalist. The main supporting actors, drawn from around the world (mostly well known in their countries, with some, including the boy (Kagiso Kuypers) playing a key role as Hounsou's son, making their first appearance in a film) were all exceptional. There is a special quality of depth to a film in which the supporting actors make powerful contributions.
The story is driven mostly by action. There are few moments of quiet conversation, but they pace the movie nicely.
The story structure is a model of the type that Robert McKee advocates: it takes standard story structures and twists them to be unique and original. There are several movie archetypes here: it is partly a caper movie, partly a road movie, partly the kind of man-woman romance where the principals must keep their distance (remember African Queen), partly a buddy movie, partly a father-son binding story, partly a war movie, partly a journalist-discovers film (like All The President's Men -- but a beautiful-lady-journalist pursuing a single bad-boy-with-Hollywood-looks source has a different investigative dynamic); and, finally, partly a documentary on blood diamonds, child warriors, and Africa... an environment hovering always in the background (as in Children Of Men), providing the set-up and the world of the film.
(In the 60's, the Kingston Trio sang The Merry Minuet, to a happy tune:
They're rioting in Africa,
There's strife in Iran.
What nature doesn't do to us
Will be done by our fellow man!
I guess the world hasn't all that changed much in 40 years.)
The director, Edward Zwick, also directed The Last Samurai and Legends of the Fall, and was a producer of Traffic, and I Am Sam.
His commentary on the DVD is a very interesting discussion of what he learned about Africa, its diamonds, and its wars, how to manage the logistics of this kind of film, and many subtle points of acting technique, story telling and directing.