Blood Diamond (film)
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Edward Zwick|
|Produced by||Marshall Herskovitz
|Written by||Charles Leavitt|
|Music by||James Newton Howard|
|Edited by||Steven Rosenblum|
|Distributed by||Warner Bros.|
Blood Diamond is a 2006 American-German political war thriller film co-produced and directed by Edward Zwick, starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Jennifer Connelly and Djimon Hounsou. The title refers to blood diamonds, which are diamonds mined in African war zones and sold to finance conflicts, and thereby profit warlords and diamond companies across the world.
Set during the Sierra Leone Civil War in 1996–2001, the film depicts a country torn apart by the struggle between government loyalists and insurgent forces. It also portrays many of the atrocities of that war, including the rebels' amputation of people's hands to discourage them from voting in upcoming elections.
The film's ending, in which a conference is held concerning blood diamonds, refers to a historic meeting that took place in Kimberley, South Africa in 2000. It led to development of the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme, which sought to certify the origin of rough diamonds in order to curb the trade in conflict diamonds, but has since been mostly abandoned as ineffective.
The film received mixed but generally favorable reviews, with praise directed mainly to the performances of DiCaprio and Hounsou; they were nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actor and Best Supporting Actor, respectively.
It is 1999 and Sierra Leone is ravaged by major political unrest. Rebel factions such as the Revolutionary United Front frequently terrorize the countryside, intimidating Mende locals and enslaving many to harvest diamonds, which fund their increasingly successful war effort. One such unfortunate is fisherman Solomon Vandy (Djimon Hounsou) from Shenge, who has been assigned to a workforce overseen by Captain Poison (David Harewood), a ruthless warlord.
One morning Vandy discovers an enormous pink diamond in the riverbank and buries it in the soft earth. Captain Poison learns of the stone, but before he can follow up, the area is raided by government security forces. Both Vandy and Poison are incarcerated in Freetown, along with Danny Archer (Leonardo DiCaprio), a white Zimbabwean gunrunner jailed while trying to smuggle diamonds into Liberia. These were intended for Rudolph van de Kaap (Marius Weyers), a corrupt South African mining executive.
Having managed to learn about the pink diamond, Archer arranges to have Vandy freed from detention. He travels to Cape Town, meeting with his former military contacts, including Colonel Coetzee (Arnold Vosloo), an Afrikaner formerly with the apartheid-era South African Defence Force. Coetzee now freelances with a private military firm. Archer says he wants to recover the diamond and use it to leave the continent forever, but Coetzee counters with his claim, saying his lost stake in Archer's botched Liberian operation entitles him to the diamond as compensation. Archer returns to Sierra Leone, locates Vandy, and offers to help him find his family if he will recover the prize.
Meanwhile, RUF insurgents escalate hostilities. Freetown falls to their advance while Vandy's son Dia (Kagiso Kuypers) is among those rounded up to serve as a child soldier under a liberated Captain Poison. Archer and Vandy narrowly escape to Guinea, where they plan to infiltrate Kono with an American journalist, Maddy Bowen (Jennifer Connelly). They will give her inside information on the illicit diamond trade. Coetzee and his private army also turn up in the region, having been contracted by local authorities to repulse the renewed rebel offensive.
While Bowen gets out with her story, the two men set out for Captain Poison's former encampment. Dia, stationed with the RUF garrison there, is confronted, although he refuses to acknowledge his father. Archer radios the site's coordinates to Coetzee, who directs an air strike via an Mi-24 helicopter gunship. Vandy locates Captain Poison and beats him to death with a shovel while mercenaries attack and rout the warlord's surviving men. Coetzee forces a reluctant Vandy to produce the diamond, but is killed by Archer, who realizes Coetzee would have simply killed them both. Dia holds them both briefly at gunpoint, before Vandy renews their bond.
Archer discloses he has been mortally wounded. He entrusts the stone to Vandy, ordering him to take it for his family. Vandy and his son rendezvous with a charter pilot, Nabil (Jimi Mistry), who flies them to safety while Archer makes a final phone call to Maddy Bowen. He asks her to assist Vandy, and gives her consent to publish his revelations of the diamond trade, telling her, "It's a real story now." Maddy is upset when he tells her he cannot come to meet her. As he dies, he looks out onto the sunset, reassuring her. "That's alright. I'm exactly where I'm supposed to be." He dies peacefully, still in his African home.
Shortly afterward, Vandy, now living in England, meets with representatives of van de Kaap, who wants to buy his gem. Bowen photographs the deal for publication in her article detailing the trade in conflict gems, and exposes van de Kaap's criminal actions. Vandy appears as a guest speaker at a conference on "blood diamonds" in Kimberley and is met with a standing ovation.
- Leonardo DiCaprio as Danny Archer
- Djimon Hounsou as Solomon Vandy
- Jennifer Connelly as Maddy Bowen
- Kagiso Kuypers as Dia Vandy
- Arnold Vosloo as Colonel Coetzee
- Antony Coleman as Cordell Brown
- Benu Mabhena as Jassie Vandy
- Anointing Lukola as N'Yanda Vandy
- David Harewood as Captain Poison
- Basil Wallace as Benjamin Kapanay
- Jimi Mistry as Nabil
- Michael Sheen as Rupert Simmons
- Marius Weyers as Rudolf van de Kaap
- Stephen Collins as Ambassador Walker
- Ntare Mwine as M'Ed
- Ato Essandoh as Captain "Rambo"
- Gaurav Chopra as French journalist
Leavitt was hired by Warner Bros. in February 2004 to rewrite an early draft of the film, then titled Okavango. The story had been stuck in "development hell" at the studio for years before producers Paula Weinstein and Gillian Gorfil finally decided on the story of an African farmer caught up in the conflict between an American smuggler and the local diamond mining organization. Leavitt researched the diamond industry to great lengths before he began writing the screenplay, explaining that he has "always been a stickler for immersing [himself] in research". He wrote the film with the assumption that it would offend the diamond industry, particularly De Beers, and so made sure to portray the industry truthfully, aware that he could potentially be sued by De Beers and other powerful mining corporations. Paula Weinstein was impressed by Leavitt's Blood Diamond draft, but hired writers Ed Zwick and Marshall Herskovitz to rewrite the script again; by the time he had completed the script, Zwick had become so interested in the story that he agreed to direct the film as well.
Review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes reports that 62% of critics have given the film a positive review based on 211 reviews, with an average score of 6.3/10, making the film a "fresh" on the website's rating system. At Metacritic, which assigns a weighted mean rating out of 100 to reviews from mainstream critics, the film received an average score of 64, based on 39 reviews, which indicates "generally favorable reviews". Claudia Puig of the USA Today gave the film a positive review, stating that "Blood Diamond is a gem in a season with lots of worthy movies." Puig also praised DiCaprio's acting and noting that "it is also the first time the boyish actor has truly seemed like a man on film." Peter Rainer of the Christian Science Monitor also gave the film a positive review, he, like Puig, also praised DiCaprio's acting, stating: "As strong as Blood Diamond is in its best moments, I wish it had been even harder-edged. DiCaprio is remarkable - his work is almost on par with his performance this year in The Departed."
William Arnold of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer gave the film a positive review, stating: "Zwick's narrative skills keep us hooked on the story, and the first-rate production values and imaginative use of locations (it was shot in Mozambique) give the film an enthralling scope and epic sweep." Damon Wise of the Empire magazine gave the film four-stars-out-of-five, he stated: "Great performances, provocative ideas and gripping action scenes fall prey to Hollywood logic and pat storytelling in the final hour." David Edelstein of the New York magazine also gave the film a positive review, stating: "Given that the movie doesn't have a single narrative surprise--you always know where it's going and why, commercially speaking, it's going there--it's amazing how good Blood Diamond is. I guess that's the surprise." Ann Hornaday of the Washington Post also praised DiCaprio's acting, saying that he "who between this outing and The Departed has undergone a major growth spurt this year." About the film itself, she stated: "For its flaws, Blood Diamond is a gem, if only for being an unusually smart, engaged popcorn flick."
James Berardinelli of the ReelViews gave the film three-out-of-four-stars, stating: "It's a solid performance from Leonardo DiCaprio, who has grown into this sort of "gritty" role and is more believable after having been seen dancing on the dark side in The Departed." Dana Stevens of the Slate magazine is also among those who gave the film a positive review, she stated: "Blood Diamond is a by-the-numbers message picture, to be sure... But the director, Edward Zwick, is craftsman enough that the pace never slackens, the chase scenes thrill, and the battle scenes sicken. And if it makes viewers think twice about buying their sweethearts that hard-won hunk of ice for Christmas, so much the better." Ty Burr of the Boston Globe, after giving the film a positive review, stated: "As an entry in the advocacy-entertainment genre, in which glamorous movie stars bring our attention to the plight of the less fortunate, Blood Diamond is superior to 2003's ridiculous Beyond Borders while looking strident and obvious next to last year's The Constant Gardener.
Pete Vonder Haar of the Film Threat gave the film a mixed review, stating: "It's a reasonably entertaining actioner, and Zwick doesn't shy away from depicting violence or the horrors of war, but as a social statement it falls a little short. And emeralds are prettier anyway." Marc Savlov of the Austin Chronicle also gave the film a mixed review, he stated: "While the film never quite reaches the emotional peaks it so obviously seeks to scale, Zwick's film is still potent enough to save you three months salary." Nathan Lee of the Village Voice, like Vonder Haar and Savlov, also gave the film a mixed review, stating that "De Beers can relax; the only indignation stirred up by Blood Diamond won't be among those who worry about where their jewelry came from, but with audiences incensed by facile politics and bad storytelling." Scott Tobias of the A.V. Club gave the film "C", he stated: "Much like Zwick's Glory and The Last Samurai, Blood Diamond strives to be an "important" film while stopping well short of being genuinely provocative and artistically chancy." Mick LaSalle of the San Francisco Chronicle gave the film a negative review, stating that "director Edward Zwick tried to make a great movie, but somewhere in the process he forgot to make a good one."
Box office performance
Blood Diamond opened on December 8, 2006 in the United States and Canada in 1,910 theaters. The film ranked at #5 on its opening weekend, accumulating $8,648,324, with a per theater average of $4,527. The film's five-day gross was $10,383,962.
The film dropped down to #7 on its second weekend, accumulating $6,517,471 in a 24.6% drop from its first weekend, and per theater average of $3,412. By its third weekend it dropped down even more to #12 and made $3,126,379, $1,628 per theater average.
Blood Diamond went on to gross $57,377,916 in the United States and Canada and $114,029,263 overseas. In total, the film has grossed $171,407,179 worldwide.
|Blood Diamond: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack|
|Film score by James Newton Howard|
|Released||December 19, 2006|
|Producer||James Newton Howard|
|James Newton Howard chronology|
Blood Diamond: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack is the soundtrack to the film of the same name, released on December 19, 2006 by Varèse Sarabande. It was composed by James Newton Howard, and won the "Soundtrack of the Year" at the 2008 Classical BRIT Awards.
|1.||"Blood Diamond Titles"||1:32|
|2.||"Crossing the Bridge"||1:41|
|4.||"RUF Kidnaps Dia"||3:02|
|5.||"Archer & Solomon Hike"||1:55|
|6.||"Maddy & Archer"||1:56|
|7.||"Solomon Finds Family"||2:09|
|8.||"Fall of Freetown"||4:45|
|9.||"Did You Bury It?"||1:36|
|10.||"Archer Sells Diamond"||1:40|
|12.||"Your Son is Gone"||1:21|
|13.||"Diamond Mine Bombed"||4:31|
|14.||"Solomon's Helping Hand"||1:11|
|16.||"Solomon & Archer Escape"||2:12|
|17.||"I Can Carry You"||1:30|
|18.||"Your Mother Loves You"||2:24|
|19.||"Thought I'd Never Call?"||3:56|
|22.||"Ankala" (Performed by Sierra Leone's Refugee All Stars)||4:12|
|23.||"Baai" (Performed by Emmanuel Jal with Abd El Gadir Salim)||4:37|
|24.||"When Da Dawgs Come Out to Play" (Performed by Bai Burea, featuring Masta Kent and Bullet Rhymes)||3:19|
Blood Diamond was released on DVD in region 1 format on March 20, 2007. Both a single-disc and a two-disc version are available. High Definition versions on HD DVD and Blu-ray have also been released with a R rating in the United States and a rating of MA in Australia.
The film sold 3,620,038 DVD units and grossed $62,723,329.
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- "Weekend Box Office Results for December 15–17". Box Office Mojo. IMDb. Retrieved September 7, 2012.
- "Weekend Box Office Results for December 22–24". Box Office Mojo. IMDb. Retrieved September 7, 2012.
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