I saw the movie “Blood Diamond” this week. I know that some reviewers have been hard on the film because in their opinion it is better suited for a “lecture hall” than an entertainment venue (from Entertainment Weekly). I am sorry, but the only way that the average American is going to learn about any important issue these days is through the popular media, not through lectures given by learned academics who can give in depth analysis on the issue. I would certainly bet that the 2 1/2 time of the film exceeds the total length of time given to the war in Sierra Leone by CNN at the time that the war was actually taking place. I think what is most appalling is that so many reviewers have reduced the movie to a “message movie”, and who potentially file the abuses and calamities pictured under the category of “goofy” or “cliche” (go to Rotten Tomatoes to see some of these reviews). I have to state that in a year when it has taken alot for me to actually like a movie, I thought Blood Diamond was extremely well made, and well-acted. I am a big Leonardo and Djimon fan, and they both excelled, in my humble opinion. Granted, there were a few lines of the film that I thought were taken to excess (I understand Americans need their messages not in subtext, but was it really necessary to have a villager stating, “Oh, I hope they don’t find oil here), but by in large I thought it was remarkably well done. The political message was embedded in the story of the film, which is as it should be. Particularly tortuous to view are the scenes of the RUF’s child soldiers, but after reading some books regarding child soldiers in Africa, it was portrayed as it should have been. Sometimes, I think that things should be made brutally obvious to an American consuming public who buy first, think later, if at all.
Now, anyone who knows me certainly knows that I have maintained an intense dislike for diamonds for quite some time. Cynically, my outright dismissal of diamonds can probably be traced to certain events at Brigham Young University, but my dislike congealed together in law school when I wrote an essay, and also a letter to the editor, regarding why I thought BYU students should be more cautious before purchasing that special ring for that special someone. I won’t rehash my conclusions in that letter here. The war in Sierra Leone ended some time ago, after all. Nonetheless, my conclusions remain the same. It has less to do with the fact that I will never own a diamond and more to do with the fact that people should be less inclined to buy into media campaigns for products, turning some object into some notion of “pure eternal love” when that object isn’t even that rare, and has been used to perpetrate and finance terrible abuses. I mean, wars for oil are bad (and breed some horrible atrocities as well), but at least people aren’t holding up that junk and stating that it represents something greater than what it actually is. Its value is its function. Diamond wars are wars over nothing – not wars over functional resources (I doubt people are so violent when it comes to the mining of industrial diamonds), but wars over advertising-assigned values. Thus, children were losing their arms and legs for nothing except so some chick could show off her rock to make her friends jealous.
I just have to say, though Blood Diamond, with The Queen, and The Last King of Scotland, were probably my favorite movies that I have seen thus far this fall. The movies that I enjoyed but didn’t love are Stranger than Fiction, and The Fountain. Most of the rest have just been complete junk.