Blood Diamond

Movie review by
Cynthia Fuchs, Common Sense Media
Blood Diamond Movie Poster Image
Extremely violent melodrama is not for kids.
  • R
  • 2006
  • 138 minutes

Parents say

age 15+
Based on 15 reviews

Kids say

age 14+
Based on 31 reviews

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

The movie offers strong messages about the consequences of the "conflict diamond" trade, but they're somewhat overshadowed by the characters' flaws and the constant peril and violence.

Positive Role Models & Representations

The hero starts out as a smuggler and killer and learns to be a good man, but the movie uses a too-famliar structure -- in which the white hero (African-born in this case, though played by U.S. star), retrieves his moral compass from, then saves, a dedicated black African father.

Violence

Constant stream of grenades, explosions, shooting, missile fire, whacking with machetes; frequent bloody bodies visible; children who have been kidnapped and conscripted as "soldiers" shoot and are shot; dismemberment (arm chopped off explicitly); prisoners in rough cages; militia members ride through towns in Jeeps, shooting at everyone in sight; children frightened and appalled by sight of dead parents; Dia (Solomon's son) is traumatized and trained to kill on command; goat's neck cut open, with diamonds hidden inside (bloody); massacre scene leaves many bloody bodies in street; Danny pulls a cap off a corpse to use as a disguise, then reveals he's a stone-cold assassin, killing several men efficiently.

Sex

Villain reads Hustler; Solomon strips naked to show he's not carrying the diamond (his torso remains in shadow); mild flirting between leads and a moment of close dancing; mention of Bill Clinton's 1999 impeachment (as "blowjobs-gate"); some shots show cleavage.

Language

Frequent use of "f--k," one powerful use of "kaffir" (African equivalent of the "N" word), plus other language, such as "s--t" and "ass."

Consumerism

Young African soldier wears a Snoop Dogg T-shirt; mention of Baywatch (as sign of American freedom) and National Geographic.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Frequent cigarette smoking; several scenes in bars or showing social and hard drinking; during a long hike, Danny says he needs to "quit smoking."

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that this mature action-drama isn't for young kids (even though Leo lovers may want to see it). It's extremely violent, with frequent scenes of war and abusive labor practices (villagers' hands are chopped off and mineworkers are shot dead for disobeying orders). Weapons include guns, machetes, knives, grenades, missiles, Molotov cocktails, and AK-47s. Most upsetting: Young boys are kidnapped from their families and trained to kill, chanting "Shed their blood." The children also smoke cigarettes and drink. Displays of anger lead to arguments and fistfights. During a massacre scene, a body is thrown from a balcony, bodies spurt blood, and buildings explode. Characters drink frequently and smoke lots of cigarettes. Language includes many uses of "f--k" and one pronounced use of the African racist term "kaffir."

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written bywonder dove March 24, 2013

Powerful & Haunting.

I saw this film around when it first came out and let me tell you, it was the most terrifying thing I had ever experienced. Heart thumping, eyes wide open. So I... Continue reading
Adult Written byDiana VF July 20, 2011

Know your children - a movie to learn from

Lots of violence, gore and bad language. I like this movie very much for displaying war and greed as it does. Knowing my kids, I let them watch it and explained... Continue reading
Teen, 17 years old Written bysomehowimanage November 8, 2014

Hear this out

Well the first time that I had watched it was in a social studies class. And it is really eye opening, yes there is lots of violence, and with said violence com... Continue reading
Teen, 15 years old Written byMr Blonde January 29, 2014

What's the story?

When devoted Sierra Leone husband/father Solomon Vandy's (Djimon Hounsou) family is dispersed by rebel militias and his young son Dia (Kagiso Kuypers) conscripted to serve as a child solider, Solomon is sent to work as a diamond miner. As luck has it, he finds a gigantic 100-karat "pink"; Zimbabwe-born solider of fortune Danny (Leonardo DiCaprio) happens to hear of this, and soon the two undertake a tense and untrusting agreement: Danny will help Solomon find his family ... and a buyer for the diamond. But Danny is set onto a moral-lesson-learning path -- not only by his relationship with Solomon, but also by a new friendship with U.S. reporter Maddy (Jennifer Connelly). Though she, too, distrusts Danny, she wants the story he can give her about the ins and outs of the illegal arms and diamond traffic. Danny dismisses Maddy's work in Sierra Leone and in other war zones as "writing about it" -- that is, observing and exploiting, just as he does. But she feels a passion for the cause, especially when she meets Solomon. Though Maddy is cynical about the effects of U.S media, she believes she can help by "writing about it." So she agrees to the plan: Danny will help her as she helps Solomon, and, in turn, Solomon will find his hidden diamond for Danny.

Is it any good?

BLOOD DIAMOND is equal parts earnest and muddled. While it does good work by bringing the lingering problem of African conflict diamonds back into the news, the movie itself is ungainly and retro, using white characters to illuminate the problem -- while also simplifying it. The film shows plenty of the effects of the diamond-and-arms traffic: battles and massacres involving a range of forces, from local militias to the Revolutionary United Front to the national military. The violence is horrific, and the effects are clearly devastating, but the focus on Danny's ethical education detracts from what seem like more urgent troubles (say, a million refugees).

The film does suggest that it understands its limits in several references to the racism that allows such systems of exploitation to persist and even thrive. Danny cajoles Solomon: "I know people, white people. Without me, you're just another black man in Africa, all right?" This is partly true, but the film makes this black man a figure for righteous vengeance, and his immediate targets are other black men in Africa, with large guns, bloody machetes, and scarred faces. White, designer-suited Europeans in Antwerp and London do appear as beneficiaries of the bloodshed, but they don't suffer the same sorts of visceral, audience-moving consequences as the villainous Africans.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the issue of "conflict diamonds." How is this problem similar to other ways in which people are exploited for resources, labor, or land?

  • How do Danny's morals change as he learns from the other main characters?

Movie details

For kids who love action

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