Blood Diamond

  • Directors: Edward Zwick
  • Producers: Gillian Gorfil, Marshall Herskovitz, Graham King, Paula Weinstein, Edward Zwick
  • Writers: Charles Leavitt
  • Genres: Action, Adventure, Drama, Thriller
  • Actors: Djimon Hounsou, Leonardo DiCaprio, Jennifer Connelly, Michael Sheen, Arnold Vosloo

Set during the Sierra Leone Civil War in 1999, the film shows a country torn apart by the struggle between government soldiers and rebel forces.[1] The film portrays many of the atrocities of that war, including the rebels’ amputation of people’s hands to discourage them from voting in upcoming elections.

The film begins with the capture of Solomon Vandy (Djimon Hounsou), a Mende fisherman, by the Revolutionary United Front (RUF) rebels when they invade the small Sierra Leonian village of Shenge. Separated from his family, Solomon is enslaved to work in the diamond fields under the command of a Warlord called Captain Poison (David Harewood) while his son Dia is conscripted into the rebel forces, the brainwashing eventually turning him into a hardened killer. The RUF use the diamonds to fund their war effort, often trading them directly for arms. While working in the RUF diamond fields as a forced laborer, Solomon finds a large, pink diamond inside a big, broken pipe in the diamond fields. Claiming that he must go to the toilet, Solomon hides the diamond between his toes to try and sneak it away to bury it. However, moments before government troops launch an attack, Captain Poison sees Solomon hiding the diamond. Captain Poison is injured in an attack by government forces before he can get the stone, and both he and Solomon are taken to prison in Freetown, the capital of Sierra Leone.

Solomon travels to London and, with the help of Bowen, he trades the diamond to Simmons for £2,000,000 and the reunification of his family, making the exchange as Solomon’s wife and children arrive via a Lear Jet at a London airport. Bowen, who secretly photographs the deal, later publishes a magazine piece exposing the trade in “conflict” or “blood” diamonds. The film ends with Solomon smiling at the photograph Maddy took of Archer earlier, now published in her magazine along with the complete story of their journey, before addressing a conference on blood diamonds in Kimberley, South Africa, describing his experiences. This refers to an actual meeting that took place in Kimberley in 2000 and led to the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme, which seeks to certify the origin of diamonds in order to curb the trade in conflict diamonds.

The Express

  • Directors: Gary Fleder
  • Producers: John Davis
  • Writers: Charles Leavitt, Robert C Gallagher
  • Genres: Biography, Drama, Sport
  • Actors: Rob Brown, Charles S Dutton, Dennis Quaid

The movie begins with Ernie Davis as a young African American boy growing up in Uniontown, Pennsylvania in the late 1940s. Ernie and his same-aged uncle, Will Davis, Jr., experience racism by neighborhood bullies, which forces Ernie to use his superior athletic ability to escape harm. Ernie lives with his grandparents, including his grandfather Will Davis (affectionally known as “Pops”), who helps Ernie overcome a stuttering problem by reading passages from the Bible. Pops also introduces Ernie to the story of Jackie Robinson, the first African American to play in Major League Baseball, and Ernie pins a picture of Jackie Robinson to his bedroom wall. Ernie’s mother, Marie Davis, eventually returns to inform the family that she has remarried and can now afford to raise Ernie at her home in Elmira, New York.

Upon relocating to Elmira, Ernie is excited to see a Small Fry Football League and joins the local team. Although he experiences slights because of his race, he excels on the football field as a running back and is clearly the best player on the field.

Several years later, Syracuse University football head coach Ben Schwartzwalder is searching for a running back to address the absence of Jim Brown, the graduating player completing his All-American senior season. After rejecting several talented prospects because of perceived laziness or injuries, Schwartzwalder is intrigued after seeing footage of Ernie playing for Elmira Free Academy.

The movie concludes with a written narrative explaining that Ernie died on May 18, 1963, that 10,000 people attended his funeral service, and that President Kennedy sent a sympathy telegram that was read at the service. It also explains that Little continued the tradition of wearing the uniform #44 while playing at Syracuse to honor Ernie.