December 19, 2006
Sierra Leone's bloody civil war of the late 90's is captured by this action packed thriller, "Blood Diamond", starring Leonardo DiCaprio and the Beninese actor Djimon Hinsou of the "Amistad" fame. Perhaps the United Nations can set up a partnership with Hollywood for catching public attention and raising public awareness about issues that plague our world today; Sierra Leone, Darfur, Afghanistan, Colombia. This movie successfully brings out the issue of illegal diamond mining in Sierra Leone and the illicit sale of diamonds thereof. The pathetic plight of the exploited diamond mine workers is whipped to the forefront by Zwick's thriller. No individual having watched this movie would be able to buy a diamond without wondering whether it is a 'conflict diamond'! It may be wishful thinking on my part but possibly the Diamond District in New York may have taken a temporary hit because of this movie. Couples wanting to get engaged may, for the time being, have been guilted out of buying that diamond ring!
Illicit diamond mining has been a major issue at various global conferences these past few years, yet, that hasn’t affected diamond sales in any significant way. Primarily for two reasons: one that global issues such as these seldom break the confines of the conference sites or the tenement of an exclusive bureacracy to reach the common man. The other reason is that the social conscience of most human beings is very easily appeased by words: “the diamond I buy is not a ‘conflict diamond’”, " I made sure I did not buy a diamond from Sierra Leone". These consolatory words do two things: placate a stirring conscience back into apathy, and convince the buyer to go ahead and write the check to get ownership of a diamond. If anything, movies like 'Blood Diamond' could only affect how diamonds get marketed to the general public henceforth. For instance Tiffany could market its diamonds using a different line: “flash it without guilt”, ‘your diamond, your conscience keeper’, and other such euphemisms.
Statistics show that Americans are prolific diamond buyers, and knowingly or otherwise may have sparked off and sustained many vicious wars in places such as Sierra Leone. Movies such as “Blood Diamond”, therefore, may raise public awareness of global issues in the American public, but whether it’ll bring about a change in the life of those exploited workers in Sierra Leone is debatable.
A trifle violent and at times gory, 'Blood Diamond' is definitely worth watching, if only to nudge us out of our complacency.