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Blood Diamond

In: Film and Music

Submitted By daunte84
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Throughout the world many communities, cities and countries yearn for safety and sustenance. For many lives at home means constant fear and days of hunger. The people of Sierra Leone lived through this reality from the later eighties through the early twenty first century. The film Blood Diamond is based on this politically volatile era in the history of Sierra Leone. Three places are of prominent importance in the film. In these places life changing decisions and choices are made. The significance of these palaces drives the characters to defy common human behavior, put their lives in extreme danger and seemingly achieve the impossible. Of great importance is a mining valley in the countryside which is a stronghold of the Revolutionary United Front (RUF), a rebel insurgency seeking to oust the current government. The government remains in control of the capital city of Freetown. A third significant place is the a United Nations meeting hall where the United States and other powerful Western countries make life altering decisions regarding the state of Sierra Leone. Despite the stark differences in the characteristics of these places, there’s one element that is present in all three – corruption. Greed and personal interest is the uniting factor in the three significant places in the film. So rampant is this self-interest attitude that it takes a reality of its own as TIA, short for “This is Africa.” Here, no one can be trusted and everyone strives for himself. On the RUF controlled mine field, enslaved men sift through muddy valleys for diamonds at gunpoint. With child soldiers holding rifles ready to shoot, any sign of theft or inability is punishable by death. The place is represented in the movie as a resourceful place where the RUF get the diamonds and trade them for weapons. The success of their mining operations and the consequent smuggle to neighboring Liberia is what sustains the RUF’s insurgency. Consequently the mine field is a special target for government troops as they look to dent the rebel’s forces ability to get weapons. Thus the area is a tense fire-zone where bullets could start flying anytime. The tension in this site is strongly emphasized in the film. In all the instances where the mining site is shown in the story line, gunfire is sure to breakout. Enemies are sure to collide whenever we view this in the film.

Not surprisingly, there is no social integration between the different factions in the mine site. The enslaved men are treated roughly and often don’t have social ties with anyone else. The RUF soldiers are keen to remain intimidating so therefore don’t socialize with each other. The General is brutal and makes his point to the enslaved men by killing one of them in front of the others.

At the beginning of the film, this mining area is nothing more than any other mining field where tiny pieces of diamonds are unearthed once in a while. It takes on this special mysterious significance when Solomon Vandy, a local fisherman and one of the enslaved men finds a large and rare pink diamond and instead of giving it to the “master” as usual, buries it next to the mining site. The burial site is unknown to everyone but Solomon. This mysteriousness adds more tension and significance to the area. It gives the place an added value over and beyond an insurgency hotbed. Throughout the film several characters make it their quest to retreat the diamond from the burying site and are willing to commit heinous crimes to reach their goal. Time and time again we see characters willing to risk their life in order to have sole ownership of the prized diamond. It is at this site that Danny Archer, whose main purpose is smuggling “conflict diamonds” from Sierra Leone to neighboring Liberia, kills the government military leader who mentored him as a young soldier. This is also the site where Solomon kills the General - his capturer – who in addition to enslaving him earlier in the conflict, also enlisted and trained his son child to be a child soldier for the RUF. To illustrate the greed, this General had a few minutes prior to his death had a machete in his hand and Solomon on his knees keenly asking him to reveal the site. In contrast to the mining site, Freetown is a lively city where the streets are overcrowded with businesses and shoppers. The place is presented as a multicultural environment where people of all walks of life can come together and trade. There are however signs of poverty as we see shanty towns and shops made of galvanized aluminum. Cultural integration is emphasized in the film. Danny has an African friend who owns a bar helping him with his business contacts. It is at this bar that he meets Maddy Bowen, an American reporter who is seeking an inside story to the diamond trade operation. The socially vibrant environment allows the two to exchange stories about their occupations. Solomon, who was freed by a government raid in mine site, was transported to a jail in Freetown where he is eventually bailed out by Danny and his business partner. The three develop a strong friendship. The friendship between Danny, Maddy, and Solomon is interesting. It is a great demonstration of self-interest attitude of the city. Danny, the smuggler, somehow discovers that Solomon had buried a precious diamond somewhere. He bails him out and delivers a false promise that he can reunite him with his family which was separated in the conflict. Mandy, the reporter, knows that Danny has the inside story and names she needs and Solomon can serve as the perfect exploited victim. Solomon sees Mandy as means of telling his and the country’s story to wider audience in the United State. Although it seems each is looking out for the interest of the other, in reality there’s a deeper explanation. The city, which was portrayed as peaceful at first, quickly disintegrates into chaos as the rebels defeat the government troops guarding the city. It begins to take on the characteristics of the mine fields as people are killed at gunpoint. Many innocent people are murdered including the bar owner. In the middle of this struggle is the United Nations which plays the role of not only controlling the diamond flow but also seeks to undermine the power of the insurgency. Although there are very few glimpses of the UN meeting hall, the objective meaning it has in the film is massive. It’s clear that major decisions made in this place have the capability to instantly influence what happens on the ground in Sierra Leone. Despite the lack of action, the meeting hall is a tense environment where different courses of actions are debated. Once again the conflicting interests are clearly visible in this hall. Delegates of the United States are accused of having a hand in what happens in Freetown and Sierra Leone in general. They are identified as one of the large importers of diamonds. Once again the self-interest is clearly shown at these corridors of power. The delegates have a special arrangement with a Van Der Kaap, a corrupt organization that specifically exploit the war zone to their own advantage and receive “conflict diamonds” at a significantly cheaper price compared to the market. These diamonds are incorporated into the stream of clean diamonds and once sold at market prices, they translate into a large profit for Van Der Kaap and others involved.

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