Blood Diamond

From Jan ’07 Spotlight: A few days before the theatrical release of his second film Glory in December 1989, director Edward Zwick came to town to headline a benefit screening at the Chicago Historical Society. Bounding up to the stage as the final credits rolled, the Winnetka native said: “I feel like I’m back at my bar mitzvah!,” thereby acknowledging an audience filled with familiar faces. Even though I wasn’t technically a member of Zwick’s mishpokhe, I was a fanatical fan of his TV series thirtysomething, and I applauded with enthusiasm. Therefore it gives me great pleasure to report that after five more feature films and several very successful television projects, Zwick’s social consciousness is very much intact., the new film starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Jennifer Connelly, and Djimon Hounsou, is Zwick’s his best work to date.

DiCaprio (as Rhodesian mercenary “Danny Archer”) and Connelly (as American journalist “Maddy Bowen”) are both excellent, but the heart and soul of the film belongs to Hounsou. In Blood Diamond’s peaceful opening moments, “Solomon Vandy” (Hounsou) is introduced as a dedicated family man. His young son “Dia” is smart and sensitive, and Solomon believes that Dia is destined for great things. But his dreams are shattered when rebel soldiers invade their village. Solomon is sent to work as a slave in the diamond fields, while Dia is forced to take up arms and learn to kill in order to survive.

Blood Diamond is set in the 1990’s, when civil war raged in Sierra Leone, but wide-spread tribal and ethnic conflicts are just as real today. The mishpokhe has every right to be proud: behind this action/adventure movie beats the heart of a man who’s learned how to make commercially-successful films in the service of tikkun olam.

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