Blood and Diamond Essay

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MOVIE REVIEW BLOOD DIAMOND DIRECTOR: Edward Zwick CAST: Leonardo DiCaprio, Djimon Hounsou, Jennifer Connelly RUNNING TIME: 138 minutes RATING: R for strong violence and language GRADE: B+ LINKS/TRAILERS · Official site PHOTO GALLERY View all photos His new film, "Blood Diamond," is very much in this tradition. It's an adventure set in the 1999 Sierra Leone civil war that's out to educate its audience about two specific aspects of the enduring horror of modern Africa: child soldiers and conflict diamonds. It has its share of flaws (perhaps as much as any Zwick film since 1994's "Legends of the Fall") but it still comes together to be a gut-wrenching, eye-filling and ultimately moving spectacle, as well as a strong star vehicle for Leonardo DiCaprio. It's the story of a noble African fisherman (Djimon Hounsou) who survives a rebel massacre of his village and is sent to work as a slave in a remote diamond-mining camp, where he finds -- and manages to hide -- a pink diamond the size of a bird's egg. He's soon rescued by government troops, but he was seen hiding the gem. And when he's taken to the capital, Freetown, word of the discovery reaches a white Zimbabwean smuggler and mercenary (Leonardo DiCaprio), who sees the stone as his ticket off the Dark Continent. From here, the movie becomes a complex, episodic tale of how the mercenary gradually wins the confidence of the fisherman -- whose only thought is of rescuing his family -- and takes him on a perilous journey back through the war zone to recover the priceless diamond. In the process, the movie rubs our faces in violence, actually outdoing such recent films as "Beyond Borders," "Hotel Rwanda," "The Constant Gardener" and "The Last King of Scotland" in portraying Africa as a scary, apocalyptic hell on earth. Like last year's "The Interpreter," it also dares to have a

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