Written by Samantha Ofole-Prince
Set in late 1990’s Sierra Leone, when the West African country was in the throes of a civil war, Hounsou plays Solomon Vandy a noble Mende fisherman whose village is raided by the Revolutionary United Front (R.U.F.), a ruthless rebel group. After several villagers are killed, mutilated and kidnapped, including Vandy’s own family, he is sent off to work as a slave in a remote diamond-mining camp and discovers a large pink diamond whilst sifting the river for diamonds and promptly buries it. Once rescued by government troops, word of the discovery reaches Danny Archer, a Rhodesian-born diamond smuggler and former military mercenary (Leonardo DiCaprio), who sees the stone as his ticket to wealth. From here on, the movie floats along as the mercenary gradually wins the confidence of the fisherman and takes him on a perilous journey back through the war zone to recover the priceless diamond for a price.
This is an intense movie with lots of action and brutal violence and it makes a compelling drama about two African men with very different backgrounds seeking one respective goal. Vandy’s only desire is to rescue his family and remove his only son from the evil clutches of the R.U.F. whilst Archer’s is to obtain prosperity. Jennifer Connelly plays Maddy Bowen, a reporter who tries to seduce Archer so that she can get the story of how the smuggling racket works and injects a somewhat softer tone into a depressing and sordid tragedy.
Wealth and glamour have too often meant war and suffering in Africa, and rapper Kanye West first raised the issue of conflict "blood" diamonds in his rap song "Diamonds." These diamonds mined and traded by rebel groups have been the source of murder and mutilation in Sierra Leone and "Blood Diamond" joins several flicks such as "Beyond Borders," "Hotel Rwanda," "The Constant Gardener", "Tears of the Sun" and "The Last King of Scotland" in it’s depiction of Africa and Europe’s exploitation of the continent for its many natural resources.
"Blood Diamond" is the typical big-budget Hollywood action flick with lots of blood, carnage and gore and there are a few flaws in this gem for it does a remarkable job of exposing the greed and corruption of the African diamond trade and perils of civil unrest.