02 April 2007

Movies and Theology - Blood Diamond

Warning: some plot giveaways in the post!!

First of all, some observations: this movie is difficult to watch, as in Hotel Rwanda/Sometimes in April difficult. I sobbed. How can humans do this to each other? And how can we fund it and turn a blind eye? I do not mean to say that you shouldn’t watch it. On the contrary, I highly recommend it. The story is great, the cinematography excellent (as a reprieve from the harsh reality of the situation, our eyes are treated to spectacular views), and this brings me to observation number two: the acting is stellar. I’ve never been much in the way of a Leonardo DiCaprio fan, but he deserves kudos for this one. Almost makes up for that sinking ship one. And Djimon Hounsou. Wow. (For those of you wondering, as I was for a bit of the movie, how you know this man: In America, another incredible movie.)
My third observation is purely about me: A Tale of Two Cities ruined me, I believe. I always want the rogue-turned-hero (or really any hero, for that matter) to die as part of the redemption. I’m still reeling over Tolkien’s decision to keep Frodo alive. He should have fell in that lake of fire and died with the ring. I’m not sadistic, mind you (remember the above tears as proof!), I just like a good death when apropos, when it contributes toward the salvation aspect. After the experience, Frodo never fit in. Blood Diamond gives me that death, and it is completely appropriate. Now, if Djimon’s character died, that would have felt wrong, but Leonardo’s character needed to die, not because he ended up being the villain but because it felt right for him and for me as the viewer.
Okay, so now we have the first plot-revealer out of the way. (Sorry, guys.)
Second of all, the themes of redemption throughout this movie left the viewer with the question: how will you continue to contribute toward the redemption of the world? And, I would like to add, how will you acting toward justice and peace be changed? In the movie, Danny Archer (the rogue) struggles with the idea of doing good rather than grab-all-you-can. Caveat: I disagree with the philosophy in the movie that believes that humans can become good on their own or are inherently good and need to just follow their path. I believe that humans can do good actions, but are not intrinsically good apart from God. But back to the story, up until the end, you don’t know which way Danny will go (which is the makings a good story). However, his character continues to develop as he sees the ill done to humans as ill done to humans. He sees faces, in other words. This, and his choice to follow through with it by doing good, changes him. Then there’s the redemption that leads to reconciliation with the father and son (oh dear, here come the tears). Another plot giveaway (close your eyes if you haven’t seen the movie): the son has been kidnapped by the rebel forces, brainwashed and taught to do horrible things. He becomes a child soldier. And you know it’s coming: the face-off between father and son. The son fails the first face-off. Gives father away. Calls him traitor. Then son has a second chance. Son raises gun (tears are flowing right now as I type this). Father tells son who he really is. “You are my son, and I love you. Your mother loves you, and your sisters wait for you.” The father continues to reiterate who the son really is until the son trades the gun in for love. The most powerful scene in the movie, I believe. And how can I not think of God the Father reminding me who I am when I betray Him, when I rebel and then return as the prodigal? I am His daughter. I am loved. He died for me and gives me and abundant and eternal life in His very real kingdom of peace and justice and harmony.
I don’t remember what my third of all was, but let me say this: the movie leaves you with an impression of the beauty and horrors of Africa existing together. Both run deep. TIA, This is Africa, they say. I highly recommend this movie.


Jenn said...

I started reading the post, with the plot-giveaway-warning in mind, and then after the first revelation, wished I hadn't. So I have no idea what the rest of it said.

I just wanted to say that I'm not a diCaprio fan either, but I have to confess I think he's a good actor; I saw "Basketball Diaries" and was very disturbed by it, but he gave an incredible performance.

As for Djimon Hounsou--he's also in "The Island." Likely an entirely different caliber film, but there you have it.

Pamela said...

I was glad to read your review. I will never see the movie. Something is wrong with me, when I see the horrific things I get ill (pukey kind) and have to leave the theater.

(I went with the grandkids to see Meet the Robinsons and I was able to handle that one.)

Your correlation to our betrayal to the father was well written - and convicting.

L.L. Barkat said...

I was musing deeply about Africa this week after beginning a book called Alternatives to Economic Globalization. We say we care so much about Africa and its problems, but, well, our economic policies suggest... otherwise?

Heather said...

Sorry, Jenn! You'll have to tell me what you think when you've seen it. And, yeah, I have to give the guy credit for B-ball Diaries and Gilbert Grape. Maybe he's not so bad after all. Just made a couple of yucky choices (in my opinion - in the opinion of the box office, not so yucky).
L.L. - I agree. And I feel like I'm at a stalemate and overwhelmed. Can't buy clothes from pretty much anywhere. You never know which coffee or fruit and veggies are okay. I am trying to be a responsible shopper (although, to be honest, I'm trying to be not much of a shopper at all!), but it's not just hard, it's almost impossible to balance everything. Especially when you find out that Free Trade isn't all it's cracked up to be.

Jenni said...

Wow! I'm so glad I followed Willowtree's link here. This was an incredible post.

We watched the movie last week, and reading about it brought all that emotion up for me again. It is a very powerful movie.

I used to avoid movies with Leonardo DiCaprio, but lately he has proved himself a very good actor. I hated that his character had to die in this movie. I always want a happy ending, but as my 16yo says, it just wouldn't be realistic. It also wouldn't have been as powerful. His death was *right* and proved the change he'd made in his thinking, but I (not-so) secretly wished he'd lived happily ever after with the reporter saving child soldiers and little African children orphaned by the conflict.

I agree with what you say about man not being intrinsically good without God. But I also believe man has a natural desire for God and for spiritual things built into him, and that often leads him to do good in his search for that missing piece of himself.

And, oh my goodness, that last part comparing the scene between the father and son to what God has done and continues to do for us? That sent chills up my spine.

Now I've got to go look up Djimon Hounsou because I haven't seen any of the movies mentioned, but I know I've seen him somewhere.

Heather said...

Thanks, Jenni - I'm glad you liked the movie too (enjoyed, I think is the wrong word). And yes, I do think everyone does something good (the teacher said that to Archer, and I agree with him) because, corrupted though it may be, we have all been made in the image of God.