[Marxism] blood diamonds

DCQ deeseekyou at comcast.net
Sun Dec 10 11:23:21 MST 2006


On Dec 10, 2006, at 9:56 AM, gregory meyerson wrote:

> isnt the last scene a pretty unproblematic ratification of the 
> kimberly process, a corporate led process?

Yes. As I said, the ending should have been cut or changed. But the 
ending is not poor merely because of the limp liberal politics. 
Artistically and dramatically, the movie opened questions that 
mainstream "happy ending" sensibilities couldn't entirely answer. The 
ending wants to be a resolution, but obviously falls short. If anyone 
walks out of this movie saying, "Wow, all diamonds are now blood-free 
thanks to the magnanimous and responsible diamond corporations--I think 
I'll go buy one right now," then they've got serious problems. The old 
white (and a few black) guys  in suits clapping for Solomon is not an 
answer to the violence and horror depicted in detail in the movie. 
Aesthetically, the movie would have been better off leaving the 
questions it raises unanswered than giving the lame answer it did.

Also, I may have misunderstood (I only saw it once as well), but I was 
under the impression that the suits were diplomats of sorts, not 
diamond company reps. The white guy speaking at the end is called 
"Ambassador" at one point. And in the beginning, they turn around to 
applaud the presence of the diamond industry who attend (implying that 
those gathered are not industry reps). This is also subversive--perhaps 
more than Zwick realized--because those reps turn out to be the very 
people indicted at the end.

> this closing is at odds with a good scene in the movie in which danny 
> archer seems to deconstruct the process whereby diamonds could be 
> determined to be conflict free--due to the ease of diamond laundering. 
>  what did you think of the ending though?  the guy who leads meeting 
> at end is the guy who leads the G 8 meeting at start.

Again, I largely agree. The movie raises questions that its resolution 
can't answer. So we walk away from the movie still concerned about 
conflict diamonds rather than satisfied that it is all over. (Was the 
meeting a G8 meeting? I thought it was a UN function. It wasn't really 
clear.)

> what did you think of this guy? and what did you think we were 
> supposed to think about him?  I thought he was largely valorized.

He was a tragic character. It is important to note that the movie 
resists the easy, simplistic "buddy-movie" cliches. Danny Archer (whose 
name kept reminding me of Archer-Daniels-Midland, but that's probably 
just me) is a brutal racist, and he is obviously only helping Solomon 
out of self interest. Even at the very end, while conflicted, it is 
pretty obvious that Danny is seriously considering leaving Solomon to 
die and rob him of the diamond. This is only averted by his own death. 
The final image of Danny dying is not one of heroism, but one of a 
wasted life, partially redeemed.

> I thought the acting was great--hounsou and di caprio: but I thought 
> ultimately in the service of the good corporations of the kimberly 
> process.  you do see a good corporations/bad corporations dualism, 
> right?  cause that's certainly how the movie is being read officially: 
> like by the oprah show when she had all the stars on it.  this 
> glorification of kimberly process is pretty important part of selling 
> of movie. reminded me of the way the sullivan principles, also 
> voluntary, were meant to let corps off hook.

It sounds like your problem is more with Oprah. I haven't seen any of 
the discussion of this movie, on Oprah or otherwise (I'm proud to say 
I've never watched an episode of Oprah in my life...much to the shock 
and horror of my fellow teachers). I'm just reacting to what I saw.

> as far as solomon's speech, yes, it's powerfully delivered.  the key 
> question is what's the relation of the comment to movie as a whole? 
> the relation is supposed to suggest anti racism for sure.  but the 
> heart of darkness portrait of the rebel group bothered me, not because 
> the movie distorts the horrible facts about them.  the group reminds 
> me a bit of how the khmer rouge are portrayed in that old movie with 
> sam waterson:  like a metaphysical embodiment of nightmare.  we didn't 
> even learn the connection between charles taylor and the RUF.

Yes. The movie goes a bit over the top with its imagery here, as I 
mentioned. But I don't think it's as bad as a "Heart of Darkness" type 
depiction. It tries to provide a material explanation for how (some) 
people come to be this way. And no, the movie doesn't get into the 
details of the history of the RUF or Charles Taylor. What it does say 
is: "Hey. Look at this big political mess in Sierra Leone. And it all 
the fault of Westerners." I'm fine with that.

> as you note: sierra leone is at peace.  what is the inference?  
> kimberly process worked.  corps saved the day.

Yeah. The end titles were a bit insulting. But, like the clapping 
scene, the titles were both aesthetically and politically ineffective. 
But on the whole, I think the movie is an opening for our side to 
indict the imperialist profit system, much more than it is an 
opportunity for diamond corps to sell more pretty glass. The diamond 
corps are probably hoping more people see Casino Royale than Blood 
Diamond.

> I don't trust my own interp since I didn't take notes at film and saw 
> it only once.

I don't want to get carried away defending the film. I had issues with 
it. But on the whole I thought it was well done (particularly the 
acting, art direction, and cinematography--even the heavy-handed scenes 
with the rebels were well done). And I think it was  a good thing for 
people fighting for global justice against profit and war and 
imperialism. It wasn't perfect...but hey, that gives us something to 
talk about over beers after a rally. Right?





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