2006. dir. Edward Zwick, starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Jennifer Connelly, Djimon Hounsou.
Seen it before? Yes, this one I stayed awake for while Sam slept...
The problem with having a baby face is that it's all you see when watching DiCaprio...except in this movie when all you can pay attention to is his terrible try at a South African accent...whoops!
The movie is dark but in the way it's supposed to be - face it people things like this ARE HAPPENING in other parts of the world! Kids with guns 'trained' (more like BRAINWASHED) into shooting others to bully them into joining the rebels is a sad fact. Slave labor to harvest diamonds is a reality. Families being torn apart...well, it's just awful! You would think this movie would make me depressed - to be perfectly honest it just weighed me down with sadness and a mixture of hope. I know that things worked out pretty well for Djimon Hounsou and his family but like Sam said, his story is rare and all things being considered, Solomon Vandy and his family became displaced from their fishing village and made to endure camps like sardines in a can.
I actually knew a kid who came from Africa as a refugee. His family was helped for the first two months they were in America but after that they had to fend for themselves (a social worker came in to check on them and the ESL/ELL teachers who worked with this kid and his siblings - a whole VILLAGE came as refugees - made sure to spend their extra money teaching them hygiene habits and feeding them breakfast and other snacks). They weren't like the Vandy's who seemed to educate their eldest son so that he could make something of himself. I'm pretty sure they didn't have the money though that's not always the case...sometimes refugee families DO come from money and are like the Vandys, they HAVE to flee their homes. I digress - the kids I met didn't go to school until they came here and therefore were way behind (in English and knowing how to read...of course I was way behind in communicating with them in their native tongue but alas that's the kind of education I received). It tore me up the first time I saw this thinking that the conditions my student and his family fled from might have been exactly like this movie.
That being said, DiCaprio isn't awful. Hounsou is powerful as always (yes, that was him on ER and the first movie I saw him in was Amistad with my friend Rishi and it was AMAZING!), Jennifer Connelly I can't look at the same way after watching Requiem...too bad. And contrary to what Sam wrote she was moderately helpful. Press credentials will get you info apparently.
Lessons learned - Greed is a bad thing. Don't buy diamonds unless they're conflict free. If you don't have other organizations you are devoted to helping send your money to Africa and let's get these kids away from the horrors they are surrounded with.
Would I watch it again? Yes, and I would LOVE to teach with it one day (not for elementary kids of course - too violent)
Would I own it? Well, Sam, you CAN get me this Diamond!