Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Blood Diamond: The story of the conflict in Sierra Leone

The Critics Said that the strengths of the film were more powerful than the weaknesses. The strengths of the film included strong family ties, partnership and the willing to sacrifice everything. The strong presence of family is shown when Solomon Vandy wants to find and be reunited with his family, including his son, who was taken to become a rebel. Partnership is another strength because it shows that Archer and Solomon working together for the same goals and ideas. The weakness of the film is showing the killing of innocent people in my opinion because it shows both the government and rebels ruthlessness to innocent civilians. I do agree that these are the strengths and weaknesses of the film because they are shown throughout the film.

The character that really interested me was Archer because although he is shown to be greedy, he is trying to use the diamond to get out of Africa to escape from his past and make a better future for himself. In the beginning we see Archer as a Greedy smuggler that only cares about himself and is very rude to other people. The conflicts that he faced was his promise to get Solomon back to his family and giving the diamond to his boss. I do not believe that the second conflict resolved because although he got Solomon to be reunited with his son, he gave the diamond to Solomon to give it to a man in London instead to his boss. He finally dies in the last part of the film with his goal of getting out of Africa is not accomplished.

There were different types of dialogue that was used throughout the movie. The first was the native dialogue used by people who live in Sierra Leone because although they speak English they have an accent as they speak it. The Second, was the dialogue used by foreigners because they did not have accents while they talked. The two different dialogues could symbolize the main importance of the film.

Will God Ever Forgive Us?

Many critics have given this movie a C+ like Entertainmant Weekly or a 4/5 like Empire Magazine. The Empire Magazine believes that Blood Diamond "falls maddeningly short of greatness in its final hour, partly because of an abundance of subplots." With Solomon and Archer, there is Maddy Bowen (Jennifer Connelly), who is a war reporter just in from Afghanistan, who is trying to get Archer to help her in her story about the diamond trade. The Empire Maganize also believes that her acting is "faultless", and Connelly’s presence leads to a romance that simply stores up trouble for later, in a overheated climax. I completely disagree with Empire Magazine. I believe the climax was different and was not expecting what happened to happen. Since this movie was made to tell the real stories on what was going on in Sierra Leone at that time, I believe all the little subplots and little information giving is very important. Another thing that I disagree with would be, Jennifer Connelly acting as Maddy Bowen. It was not "faultless" as Empire Magazine puts it. Sometimes I believed that Connelly character in the flim was not important. The story line on how she is starting fall for Archer, is completely irrelavant to the real story that they were trying to a accomplish.
Solomon Vandy played by Djimon Hounou, who is a a simple fisherman, who becomes the victim of a raid on his village. He is captured and by aparing his arm, he is sent to the diamond fields to work sifting for precious stones in the river. There he finds a big diamond and burys it but the captian of the rebels find out about the diamond. However he is caught by the government soliders, where in meets Archer who agrees to help him find his family in trade for that diamond. While his son is recruited as a child soldier by the rebels and has been brainwashed. A conflict he faces is that is family is nowhere to be found. Vandy then agrees to give Archer the diamond, if Acher find him his family. In the end they are all reunited with his family witht the help of Archer, Solomon keeps the diamond and trades it in for money and his family to come to London.
Dialogue is the most important part of a moive. A quote that I remembered was when Archer was talking to Maddy about him and he says, "Sometimes I wonder... will God ever forgive us for what we've done to each other? Then I look around and I realize... God left this place a long time ago." This dialogue stood out to me was because it helps the audience reliaze what is going on in this place without actually showing it. When he is saying "God left this place a long time ago" helps the audience think about what is not shown in the movie. Also, this shows that Archer, does care about making a difference in the world but since he has no help, he doesn't do anything.

Monday, January 30, 2012

What'd the Critics Think?


Bling Bling or Bling Bang?

On most review websites like Rootman Romatoes and The New York Times the flim got a 7/10 which is pretty good. Most movie critics had said that Blood Diamond biggest strength is it demonstrates the Sierra Leone conflict to the fullest and that’s its very realistic. According to Mahohla Dagris who is a movie critc on the New York Times she states that “In Blood Diamond we see the mass slaughter of innocents as both the government and the rebels mow down men, women, and children indiscriminately. We see how the rebels recruit young boys, indoctrinate them through torture and drug use, and turn them into hardened killers.” Most other movie crticis had said the same thing which was that Blood Diamond biggest strength was it had showed the hardships of what had occurred in Serria Leone. I personally agree with the critics because when I was watching the movie I could feel what Solomon was feeling and what he had to witness going on between his own people. Another strength the movie had been its use of the setting. Director Edward Zawic had cleaylu used the setting of Seira Leone to his advantage most critcs had said that the setting had complemented the theme/conflict of the movie.

As I read reviews on Blood Diamond one reoccuring common weakness that every movie critic had said was that they didn’t like the length of the movie. They felt that the movie had dragged on a little bit too long. I personally disagreee with that because I feel that the movie’s length was just about right because there was so much the movie had to show the audience in order for them to understand the plot.

Solomon Vandy who was played by Djimon Hounsou was one of the main chracters in Blood Diamond he was the protaganist in the flim. Conflicts that Solomon had faced were that he was trying to reunite with this family, but the problem was that his son Dia had been forced to join the rebels and do their bidding. As a result he had work with Danny Archer who was a diamond smuggler. They had made a deal which was that Danny would help Solomon find his family and in return Solomon would have to give Mr. Archer the diamond he had found while minning in the diamond minds. How this conflict was resolved is towards the end of the movie as Solomon finds his son in the same camp where he buried the diamond, so as he tries to save his son, but he is caught by the rebel leader. Mr. Archer figures out what happens and saves both Solomon and Dia. When they go get the diamond they start getting attacked by the government millitary and as a result Mr.Archer is shot and has to be left behind while Solomon and Dia escape. When Solomon arrives in London he sells the diamond for money and for the rescue of his wife and daughter and as a result they are reunited.

Dialogue is very important in movies; some important dialogue that I had noticed was when Solomon Vandy had said “I understand White people want our diamonds, yes. But how can my own people do this to each other? I feel this quote is very important it shows how this violence had taken toll of the citizens in Sierra Leone like Solomon. What I had learned when Solomon had said this was that he was shocked that his own people were capable of doing this to each other without any remorse. Another important that I had noticed when I was watching the movie was when Mr. Archer had said “In America, its bling bling. But out here it's bling bang” this quote stood out to me because it shows how valuable diamonds are in Sierra Leone and what people are willing to do for them. When Danny Archer had said this quote what I learned about his character was that he was going to do anything to get diamonds no matter what the circumstances are he will get it no matter what.

"God left this place a long time ago"

I agree with what a lot of the critics had to say about the movie. While the movie was made with good intentions of bringing attention to the problem of conflict diamonds, as sad as it is, I don't think the movie is going to truly make anybody second guess the jewelry they are buying. I also agree with the fact that Leonardo DiCaprio gave a very believable performance. I do however disagree when they say the character of Maddy Brown was pointless and without an arc. At the end of the film it showed the impact her story created when she finished it and how it changed Soloman's life and got him to be able to bring attention to the U.N. I personally liked this movie for the most part. I really liked Soloman’s story of how he refused to give up on getting his family back together. I also found Danny Archer’s storyline to be interesting. I have never really thought about how other people from different countries had felt about the wars going on in the rest of the continent. He finds his own way to make money throughout all the madness going on in Africa because he knows there is nothing he can probably do to single handedly stop it, so he gives up trying. However, it was really hard to see the things happening in Africa, because even though it was not real death and torture being shown in the movie, it is truly a reality. Seeing a little 10 year old boy walking around with a gun and killing innocent people was really hard to see because it really hits you to realize that this happens way too often in the world. While I think it was a good storyline and important to get awareness of this major problem out, it was really hard to watch knowing how real these problems are.

One of the main characters in the film was Soloman Vandy. He was split up from his family because of the war and fought the entire time to get them back. While he was split up from his family he was forced into being a diamond miner and found a pink diamond. He knew that this diamond would be his way to get his family back together so he does everything in his power to get the diamond and reunite his family. When he finally finds his family at a refugee camp, his wife tells him that the rebels took his son to be a soldier. This is yet another obstacle in his way because he has no idea where in the country his son is, whether or not he is still alive, and if he will ever be able to get him back safely. When he does eventually find him, he is with the rebels and it is a fight to get him back and to convince his son of who he truly is and where he belongs. In the end, Soloman’s struggles are resolved and he is reunited with his entire family.
The quote that stuck out to me the most in this movie was when the character Danny Archer said “Sometimes I wonder: Will God ever forgive us for what we’ve done to each other? Then I look around and I realize… God left this place a long time ago”. I think this quote explains a lot about how Danny feels about the wars in Africa. I think as a character in this story, it seems like Danny has completely given up on trying to do the right thing and is mainly focused on doing what he thinks will further himself. I also think this has to be how a lot of people that live in Africa have to feel. It has to be hard for people to live there that believe in God and see everything happening to innocent people and feel like God still cares about what happens to them.

Exploration 5

After I read the critic reviews of the film Blood Diamond, I got a better understanding of this movie. In the critic reviews, they force three important things, one of them is the overall of the move, the best example in the movie and the weakness of the movie. The critic reviews said the best example of the film’s inadequacies is its finale, which Vandy is about to testify in a congressional meeting, “The screen fades to black and a title screen appears urging consumers not to buy smuggled “blood” diamonds. Once that screen fades to black, a loud gangster rap song about diamonds blares through the speakers and the confusion sets in. We know that the film offers an important message, but it is hidden by sensational vignettes of violence and a public service announcement.”

My favorite character in this movie is Soloman Vandy. He is a loving husband and father. He sends his son Dia to school to learn English, so the boy will grow up to have a better life. But one day, Solomon’s family is ripped from rebels and he is sent to work the find diamonds. In this movie, unlike Archer, Solomon focus finds his wife, two daughters and his son, and he makes a deal with archer, for the diamond, he will help the man find his wife and children. One of quotes that most stood out to me was said by Solomon. When Dia point gun to Archer, Solomon said, “I know they made you do bad things, but you are not bad boy.” I feel like this quote is important, I learned Solomon was care about his son, and Solomon think whatever Dia did is not his fault. Solomon really want help Dia to go back his normal life.

Exploration 5

Many critics are not very pleased with Blood Diamond. They call it, “Not the most enthusiastic one.” However, they say that the movie was very efficient in presenting the issues faced in Sierra Leone. They agree that some scenes were filmed exactly the way the war was fought which gave the movie an interesting turn but, they felt it was too long. The critics felt that the movie had its high turn but, felt as if they were repeating themselves. Many acknowledge that if the movie was edited a little more than, it could classify as a tremendous film. Critics feel that the theme of the movie was clear but, the not the character’s role. According to Berardinelli, Archer’s role was complete were as Maddy’s role was invisible and lacked the focus. Also, they felt that, “Storyline loses momentum as the storyline bogs down.” Moreover, many critics expected more of the Zwick and his production because he is director well aware of an epic film, critics explain.

 I agree with the critics because I also felt as if the movie was dragged a bit too much. The movie needed to be edited more because I felt the story of the diamond get to the market was told in bits and pieces were as, it could easily be told in one scene. I don’t agree with the critics about the character’s role because I felt they were clear and easily understandable. Although, I agree about Maddy’s role, I also felt that the role needed more focus. I learned about in depth details about the story as well as the director in detail through reading criticism. I mentioned director because if we have knowledge about the direction we can clear understand his imaginations or his version of story. Sometimes, reviews provide us with some details that could be very small but, hold a lot of importance.

There are many interesting characters to choose from but, I chose Solomon Vandy. I chose Solomon Vandy because if we ignore his character from the film then, I don’t think I will able to understand the story. Story revolves around him. Solomon struggled to stay alive and also, struggled to find his family throughout the film. Solomon characters only focus was to find his family and later, save his son from rebels. He faced many conflicts throughout this movie. First of all, he was imprisoned by the rebels and was forced to work for them. Secondly, the government has not permitted him to take his family out of the Camps. Third, his son refused to come home with him and many more. He was able to reunite with his family but, in this process undertook many troubles. He willingly helped archer find the diamond because he promised to reunite him with his family.  Even though, Archer has told him its dangerous rescue his son alone he daringly goes into the rebel’s camp to find his son. Finally, Solomon was able to solve all his conflicts. He even got to sell the diamond and was given the price promised to Archer. He got all the things he struggled for at the end.

I felt the conversation between Solomon and Dia was my favorite part of the whole movie. One of the best lines was said by Solomon. Solomon says, “I know they made you do bad things but, you’re not a bad boy.” Solomon says this when Dia points his gun toward Solomon and Archer.  This quote was very emotional. Through this quote, I learned that Solomon was trying to tell Dia that whatever happened is not his fault. He wants Dia to forget everything that had happen to him and he wants him to be like a kid that he was who loved Soccer and School. I felt that quote stood out because I grasp that Dia was in dire need of it. He needed somebody to remind him of who he really is. Dia was brainwashed and all the kids were but, he was lucky enough to get out it and now, he needs to realize the truth. This is the reason I felt that this quote stood out. Through this quote, I learned a lot about Solomon and Dia’s character. Through this quote, the film makers show us how a father try to calm his son down and explain to him what the right thing to do. This father figure is trying to remind his son who he truly is and how he should act to make it right. Dia’s reaction to this quote showed us that he wants everything to be normal and he no longer wants to fight in the war or run away from it.  In simple words, he wants to embrace his father and wants to feel safe. Through this quote, Solomon indirectly says that he is there and that everything will be alright. Dia’s reaction says that this what he thrives for.

Money Isn't Everything

Money Isn't Everything
One movie review that I read was written by James Berardinelli. Overall he believed that the movie was great but there were a few things that he didn't like about the movie. The one thing he didn't like about the movie is that he felt that it was too long. He said that it sometimes went by very slowly and the movie being 2 hours and 20 minutes long didn't help. He said that he liked how the movie was shown very realistic and showed how children get brainwashed into joining the rebels. I would have to agree with Berardinelli on the movie being longer than it should have. Other then that I thought it was a great movie. Seeing it in class was the second time I've ever seen it and it was worth it. The movie showed all the troubles that people have to go through because of the civil war, in which is still going on till this day.

My favorite character in the movie is probably Maddy Bowen, played by Jennifer Connelly. I thought that she was a great character to have in the movie because unlike Danny Archer she actually wanted to make a difference in what was happening in Sierra Leone. She was a journalist and she wanted to write the perfect story on the way diamonds are smuggled and exported illegally. She also talked about how people lived and the struggles and wrote the story on how the Vandy family reunited. A struggle that she faced in the movie was that she couldn't find evidence on how the diamonds are exported illegally. Without evidence she couldn't make a case and nobody would believe her. It was finally resolved right before she saw Archer for the last time. He gave her a book that had peoples names and account numbers that was proof of illegal activity being done for the diamonds.

One of the many quotes that stood out to me was said by Danny Archer. He was talking to Solomon Vandy trying convince him on telling him where the diamond was hidden. He said "Look, I don't give a fuck about you! That diamond could be priceless! We split it and you get your family, yes or no. Yes or no!". The reason why this stood out was because it shows how selfish people can be over money. All Archer wanted was the diamond and was willing to lie, cheat and steal his way on getting it. Solomon didn't care about the diamond. The only thing he cared about was the safety of his family. The only reason he helped Archer in the first place was because Archer promised to help him get his family back. Archer wasn't selfish for the while movie. At the end when he was dying of a bullet wound he realized that there was just no point in trying anymore. He gave the diamond to Solomon and fought off a few army men then passed away.

Only in Africa

This quote was taken from the New York Times "If films were judged solely by their good intentions, this one would be best in show. Instead, gilded in money and dripping with sanctimony, confused and mindlessly contradictory, the film is a textbook example of how easily commercialism can trump do-goodism, particularly in Hollywood." I agree 100% with this statement. This movie could have done a lot to help stop the diamond trade instead it is an action movie that brought Hollywood more money. “"Blood Diamond' more or less plays like an exotically situated action flick as each man races toward his respective goal." The 'diamond' not the diamonds are the focus of this movie. This is Hollywood, introduce a concept but do nothing to solve the main problem. One thing the film did get right is the amount of violence that was going on in Africa at the time. Empire magazine says " Edward Zwick’s film launches with scenes that startle with their savagery, rivalling even Saving Private Ryan’s opening salvo for squirm value." I agree with this statement. The opening scene of SPR is only a little worse than these opening scenes. Empire gave the movie 4 stars out of 5 which they rate as excellent. It was an excellent movie when you look at all the components. It is set in a beautiful location; it has great actors, a semi happy ending, and action. All those elements make a great movie.

I decided to pick Maddy because I thought she played a very important role in the film. Maddy was that nosey reporter who would do anything to get her story. Maddy struggles with not asking so many questions. She is always in reporter mode and the pisses some people off. Maddy also struggles with doing what she is told. Danny insists that she get on the plan and she refuses more than once. Danny eventually convinces her after some persuading. She faces the conflict of what story to write. Maddy could write about all the refuges in SL or she could write about the blood diamonds and Solomon. She chooses to write about Solomon. Her story brings down Rudolf Van De Kaap and changes the way diamonds are processed. Her story also allows Solomon to have a better life with his family. I would say the conflicts are resolved. She wrote a major story and helped save a families lives. She also brought down a powerful man.

There were some really good bits of dialogue in this movie. One of the best lines in my opinion is TIA, this is Africa. This line really does describe what is going on. Only in Africa is basically what the line states. Only in Africa do you find people killing themselves over diamonds, oil, ivory, and other things. Only in Africa do you find child soldiers used to this magnitude. Only in Africa do you find this many refuges and no one doing anything about it. The other quote I liked was that the earth is red from all the blood spilt. We see this again when Danny is dying. He takes his bloodied hand and picks up the red earth. It also goes along with TIA. Only in Africa would the Earth be red from all the blood.

I enjoyed the movie and I thank you for letting us watch it in class!

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Change the Outcome

The New York Times said that “if films were judged solely by their good intentions, this one would be best in show” because it has a good point. I agree with this because I never would have connected the thought about buying a diamond and supporting a war. I think Blood Diamond did have a good point and story. Iconcinema.com review says that this movie “is lost because of its overly simplistic discourse of the diamond trade, its influx of numbing “entertainment” and by the lack of complacency from the storylines.” I disagree with their review. The movie might have made the trade simple, but the point of the story still came across to me. From reading these different reviews it let me see the other side of critiques. I enjoyed this movie and thought it was a great story, but now I see some of the points of the other side and why other might not have liked the movie as much as I did.

Leonardo DiCaprio or Danny Archerin the movie was one of the main characters in the movie. He deals with the struggle of being the bad smuggler that he normal is or the guy that helps Soloman find his family. In the end he chose to do the right thing and not steal the diamond from Soloman. Leo faced the conflict of doing the right thing or making a lot of money for himself. The conflicts were resolved Danny decided to be a good person and allow Soloman to take the diamond and leave the country with his family.

Danny said a quote to Maddy in the movie that stood out to me. Danny said, “You come here with your laptop computers, your malaria medicine and your little bottles of hand sanitizer and think you can change the outcome, huh?” It shows the type of person that Danny was. That he had zero hope for this country and that he didn’t care much about what happened to it or anyone there in fact. Danny definitely changed by the end of the movie. When Danny calls Maddy on the phone right before he is about to die he tells her that he is right where he is suppose to be and he is really glad he met her. I think that shows that Danny throughout the movie had changed and he showed that he did care. In the end of the movie Maddy was able to make an impact with her news story using the help of Danny through his story. It just shows that they could make a change when they worked together and that they both really did care.

You Are Not A Bad Boy

By reading critic reviews of the film Blood Diamond I was able to better understand how other people felt about the movie. I was even able to think more in depth about how I personally felt about different aspects of the movie. The critics did a good job in their reviews of doing three main things; one, they gave an overall summary of the movie, two, they provided the strengths of the movie, and three, they provided the weaknesses of the movie. For this particular film the majority of the reviews said that it was a decent movie, they did not say it was incredible, but they definitely did not dislike it either.

Some of the weaknesses that multiple reviews focused on were the length of the movie, the characters, and the themes of the movie. The critics felt that for as long as the movie was there should have been more occurring in the plot, instead it kid of just drug on. The critics also felt that the roles the characters needed to play were not as difficult as they could have been, especially the character of Maddy Bowen. They felt Maddy did not have a big enough, or important enough role in the movie. Lastly, the critics felt the overall theme of the movie was too basic. They felt that the theme was simply, do not buy diamonds, because obtaining them kills people’s lives. I feel like the critics may have been somewhat justified in their reviews, but overall I feel as if they were wrong. I actually felt that the movie was an appropriate length, that the characters were developed decently well, and the theme of the movie was historically accurate, so I believe that it was appropriate.

The critics also said quite a few good things about the movie. They specifically focused on the roles of Danny Archer and Solomon Vandy in the movie, and on the twists that occurred in the plot. They felt that while the roles of Archer and Solomon may have been too easy for the actors, that they were executed incredibly well. I completely agree with the critics on this part of their review, because I felt that Archer and Solomon were very memorable and powerful. The critics also spoke of the twists in the plot, which I agreed were effective. They spoke of how you may have thought something was going to happen in the plot, but instead something entirely different occurred. For example, you may have felt that Archer was going to take advantage of Solomon, but he actually ended up helping him and improving his life.

In this movie there was more than one memorable character, but the one I wish to focus on is Solomon Vandy. Solomon had many conflicts and struggles throughout the movie. One, he was separated from the rest of his family. Two, he was working in a diamond mine at one point. Three, he was wanted by men who were aware that he had found a large diamond and had hid it. While Solomon faced all of these problems they were actually all resolved by the end of the movie. Solomon was able to escape from mining diamond, he was able to find all of his family members with help from Maddy, and he was even able to find his large diamond and keep it for himself with help from Archer.

In this movie there were a lot of specific quotes that I felt were really important, but there was one specific piece of dialogue that I chose to focus on. At one point, once Solomon has been reunited with his son Dia he says to him, “I know they made you do bad things, but you are not a bad boy”. I feel like this quote is really important, because it helps us understand both characters better. We know that Solomon is understanding and truly wants his son to know he is not to blame. We also better understand that Dia really is a good child who unfortunately was forced to do horrible things. This scene also relates so much to A Long Way Gone when the workers in the compound repeatedly tell the boys that what they are doing is not their fault. The overall dialogue in this movie was very powerful, especially in this specific part of the movie.

feeding off the war and tears of others

I mostly agree with the critics about this movie. The weird camera angles and lenses are distracting to the movie as a whole. Maddy, the reporter in the film is somewhat oblivious to the problems in Africa, while she just stands behind a camera lens and snaps photos the the horror. Although I think it is a good thing that Hollywood draw the attention to the problem, like the problem deserves. The "New York Times" writer, Manohla Dargis says that Leonardo DiCaprio draws the girls waring the big wedding rings with conflict diamonds. This makes a lot of since, because DiCaprio's fans are mostly girls, who fell in love with him in the Titanic. Mr. DiCaprio is a perfect fit for the role too, he plays a cold blooded killer well.

My favorite character in the film is Danny Archer; he is the main character in the film and he is a very complicated man. At first in the film you think this man is just a cold blooded killer, feeding off the war and tears of others. The first scene we see him in he is getting a hand full of diamonds from a rebel camp. In that scene he seems like he could care less about the people who found the diamonds. Later in the story we learn that he is traped in Sierra Leone in this war and that he is a soldier too. His past is more than troubled, Danny's mom was raped and killed, and his father was beheaded. Danny is from Rwanda and has been trapped in war his whole life. Archer is caught smuggling diamonds and is sent to jail. In jail he finds out that this refuge has found a really big diamond and that he wants it. Danny's captain in the military demands that Danny finds this diamond and gives him like 70% of the profit. Eventually they find this big diamond and you think that Danny is going to steal the diamond, so he can leave Sierra Leone. In the end Danny gives the African refugee the diamond and helps him find his family. He dies letting the refugee go to freedom.

The dialogue between the reporter, Maddy, and Archer is very telling. Maddy wants answers from Archer about the diamonds, and Archer doesn't want to give them to her. Maddy wants to save the people through her writing and behind a camera lens, which really doesn't help the people much. One of the most memorable quotes that Maddy says is "The entire country's at war. Why should I help this one person?...I can't believe i just said that." This statement is very telling about Maddy and her feelings, and how she views the war from behind the scenes. What people say is very telling about their character, sometimes people say how they really feel. Danny tells Maddy about his life when he was a kid, and the dialogue sticks out in my mind. It shows how much Archer has lost faith in people. "That's a - That's a polite way of putting it, ja. Mum was raped and shot and um... Dad was decapitated and hung from a hook in the barn. I was nine."