Not Everything That Glitters, Shines

In the dark snowy depths of Yorkshire Dales, I casually decide to watch a DVD whilst I begin to re-draft my proposal for an innovative kind of education, one that is much needed in contemporary times.

Casual is not my mother`s choice though. She always chose her movies well, and as I sift through her collection I remember that`s what kept my brother and I awake and aware, a far cry from the usual Hollywood slump.

So I reached for Edward Zwick`s Blood Diamond, a little hesitantly perhaps intuitively knowing that it was going to be difficult to stomach.

A few years ago one of my brother´s best friends Peter Conteh made a film around the same theme in Sierra Leone including an interview with president De Beers.

Looking on the De Beers website, they insist that all their diamonds are conflict free, but isn`t this slightly discounting the wider picture. What fueled the conflict in the first place?

Many women clouded and drugged by constant consumerism that fueled their superficial desires for sparkle and poor mugs suckered into giving in their three month salary for what he has been made to believe will be the only ticket to his sole ownership of a woman`s body and love. If those very people had known that the very way in which they choose to express and value their love had cost hundreds of innocent lives, would they so desperately desire diamonds?

The protagonist Danny, symbolises in many ways the cynical divide we find ourselves in rich countries like US, UK-(although UK not so rich anymore), and the society remains as apathetic as ever and desperately unaware. Danny tries as hard as he can not to feel, to forget, to aim for his goal to buy his ticket and escape. The more he tries to run from his feelings and his connection to those horrific events and people around him, the more his character is drawn in to face the situation head on in every way with his heart, mind, his body and soul. He continues to struggle with himself by asserting his authority over Solomon who is the only person who knows where the precious diamond Danny is so desperately trying to get hold of, is buried. Solomon and Danny are thrown together as Danny is the only person who knows the whereabouts of Solomon`s son who has been brainwashed to be a child solider. The two are inextricably linked and their inter-connectivity to the wider brutal conflict is realised. Danny`s escape gradually vanishes into insignificance to a greater purpose, first beyond himself, to Solomon and his son, then to humankind. Dying from a gun shot minutes away from the conflict in the diamond quarry, he calls Mandy the woman Journalist who captures the story in Fortune magazine, aiding legal declaration of the Kimberley Process. Mandy, who gets picked up by him in a bar, only to be rejected a minute later for being a journalist. It is her love that acts as a catalyst to awaken his soul and awareness of his power that could be either be abused by continuing the cycle of war, death and greed or used to end conflict and reveal how banality-as Hannah Arendt so emphasised is the source of evil.

Yes, this is a Hollywood war movie with all the shoot outs and gruesome details one can expect from the large studios, but if it reaches and wakes up the very audiences that are so unaware of what harm their fantasy worlds of glitz and glamour have upon thousands of lives, then I welcome and let my tears and pain become one of theirs and a call to act.


J Tamsin said…
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