Diamonds are a rebel army's best friend. Specifically "conflict diamonds"—stones smuggled out of countries of war and used to purchase weapons and to fuel violence. In the late 1990s, members of several concerned organizations coined the phrase "blood diamonds" in an effort to raise public consciousness about the problem. The term is a fitting title for Edward Zwick's new action drama, a story about the discovery of one very large diamond and the shedding of a whole lot of blood.
Blood Diamond is fiction, but its setting is recent (and tragic) history. The year is 1999, and civil war is raging in the West African country of Sierra Leone. Rebel forces (the Revolutionary United Front) are systematically raiding villages, killing and maiming thousands of innocent civilians and making millions homeless. Many of the young boys whose lives are spared lose their souls, as R.U.F. leaders strip away the consciences and identities of children to turn them into ruthless soldiers. The conflict within the region is exacerbated by Western exploitation as diamonds flow out of the country (often just to be stock-piled in order to keep supply low and demand high) and arms flow in.
Djimon Hounsou (Armistad, In America, Beauty Shop) plays Solomon Vandy, a Mende fisherman trying to live a peaceful life with his wife and children in a remote area of Sierra Leone. In the opening scenes of the film, Solomon's village is brutally attacked and he is ripped from his family and forced to work for rebel forces in the diamond fields. When Solomon finds an extremely rare and valuable 100-carat diamond, he risks almost certain discovery and death in order to hide it. He is motivated not by greed but by desperation—if he can somehow leverage ...1