Blood Diamond: A Marxist Criticism

The area of my study is the representation of class struggle in the movie Blood Diamond: A Marxist Criticism. The script of the movie is written by Charles Leavitt, collaboration with Gillian Gorfil and directed by Edward Zwick. Edward Zwick is a director who is not anxious to take risks and work on those stories that challenge us to take another look at the ethical choices we make in our lives. Edward Zwick is renowned for his valiant movies that include Glory (1989), and the magnificent works of art that include Legends of the Fall (1994).

Zwick has also been known for his pensiveness as a director(French ,2007).

Zwick filmed what is now one of his most famous pieces of work. Here, the subject matter may be simple, but the intense action classifications engage us viscerally, from the opening attack on Solomon's village through the lethal invasion of Freetown to the climactic attack by a mercenary helicopter gunship on a rebel stronghold. Blood Diamond (2006) starring Leonardo DiCaprio as Dany Archer Djimon Hounsou as Solomon Vandy and Jennifer Connelly as Maddy Bowen (Blood Diamond,2006).

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It was released in the U.S. on 8th of December 2006. Fearing that it would affect sales, the World Diamond Council spent $15 million on a public relations and education campaign, which started months before the movie came out.(Carnegie Council for Ethics in International Affairs,2008)

The United Nations World Food Programmed (WFP), together with the United States film company Warner Bros. Pictures Time Warner Company and in association with Virtual Studios, will host the screening of the film "Blood Diamond" – which depicts the blood-spattered civil war that overcome Sierra Leone in the 1990s – for the first time ever in Freetown, the West African country's capital.

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(UN News,2007)

The name of the movie Blood Diamond has various nicknames - blood diamonds, war diamonds, conflict diamonds. The movie is set against the backdrop of civil war in Sierra Leone which continued from 1991 up to 2000 between the government and the RUF (Revolutionary United Front) over control of the nation's diamond mines. Fight with the RUF ascended because multinational organizations functioning in Sierra Leone were not tilling their profits into the indigenous economy.

Afterward the RUF came to intimidate the local population, especially in rural areas. The RUF was notorious for separating villagers and recruiting young boys as soldiers. The film emphasizes on the war in Sierra Leone because of diamonds, the issues of child soldiers, diamond mining, and smuggling are discoursed while the story reveals. The storyline of the movie Blood Diamond in short is that the central theme of the movie is about the illegal diamond trade in Africa ,it is about greed, obsession and most importantly it's about exploitation and class struggle.

As the name of the movie Blood Diamond suggests that the diamonds which are mined in African war zones and illegally transferred to diamond companies where the fake and rough chemicals of diamonds are mixed with the original one and then they run their business through them. The story runs as follows, DiCaprio plays a mercenary-type of character that becomes interested to reach a man (Hounsou) because he has found a very big diamond and buried it somewhere.

Hounsou plays a role of a father who has lost his son and the son was brainwashed by the rebels and given a new identity and a gun the father is dreadfully seeking for his boy in the turbulence that Sierra Leone has. Blood Diamond is set in 1999 in Sierra Leone where a violent civil war had killed thousands of innocent noncombatants and driven more than a million people out of their homes and villages and become immigrant.

Edward Zwick, the director of Blood Diamond uses the different film methods of speedy acting and painful sound effects, dark shadows, pessimistic dialogue and wounded facial expressions to clearly show the theme that everyone has the potential for recovery in this film. Danny Archer is shown initially as a diamond smuggler with very few morals but as the film develops, he grows in ethical strength and the film ends with his redemption as he puts his life in dangers to save Solomon's son, Dia Vandy . Finally, Danny pays the highest price that he sacrifices his own life, in order to save the lives of Solomon and Dia. He dies and contribute to assist a greater good, that of revealing the corruption behind the blood diamond trade. ( Blood Diamond,2006).

This is the world-famous movie because of following reasons. The first reason is the setting. This movie picturized in Sierra Leone and Freetown in Africa. This movie shows fierceness and chaos because of civil war between government soldier and rebellious forces. The second reason is character and description of that character. In this film, there are three major characters. The first major character is Solomon Vandy (Djimon Hounsou).

He is 30 years old. He is a fisherman from Mende village. He has a family and he is very responsible to his family. He is an honest, and loyal man. Solomon Vandy is a father who tries so hard to find his son, Dia Vandy (Kogiso Kuypers) who has been kidnapped by the rebels and having brain washed to become a part of the rebels. The third reason is cinematography. This film has a good cinematography, either from setting picture, visual effect, music illustration, sound editing, or another aspect supporting in making this film.(Blood diamond, 2006)

Edward Zwick talks about the movie and says "When I first read about Sierra Leone, I was shocked. I'd read books about the colonial "scramble for Africa," about the exploitation of its ivory, rubber and gold, but to learn the history of diamonds was to learn the story of Africa all over again."

In an interview, Zwick says that for him this movie is based on an important and valuable issues in Africa. He thinks that for someone it is just a stone or a short story in a daily newspaper or magazine but the movie deals with the comparison of two characters that one man is obsessed with finding a precious diamond with another man risking his life to find his son is the heart of the film. (Levy, 2006). It is a vital movie which exposed the blood-spattered brutality of civil war, impropriety, and training of child soldiers.

There are many people who had given their point of view regarding this movie. The movie is called "Blood Diamonds," a reference to gems mined illegally by warlords and sold to buy weapons and pay mercenary soldiers. "The issues it evokes are universal, both politically and personally," director Edward Zwick is quoted as saying in a recent issue of Time magazine: "You can't tell a story about Sierra Leone without thinking about child soldiers. You can't tell a story about Sierra Leone without thinking about refugees. You can't tell a story about Sierra Leone without thinking about bad governance." ("Africa; Diamonds, the Curse of Africa")

The film explores the problems like the attitude of white people and upper class towards the working class, tribal warfare, exploitation , treating children in a very bad manner ,economic conflict etcetera. ( French,2007)

For, as the film proceeds, and as more and more horrible black rebels kill off horrible black soldiers representing the horrible black regime -- every black person in the film is either a victim or a monster. (Queenan,2009)

Having already roiled the diamond industry, "Blood Diamond" arrives with the best of intentions, harrowing sequences but ultimately mixed results. Leonardo DiCaprio and Djimon Hounsou deliver powerful moments, but those moments are liberally spaced along a lengthy trek 4aa-- one that periodically pauses to scold the U.S. audience for complicity in the region's exploitation. As such, overseas appeal might outstrip the yield from domestic mines.(Lowery,2006)

The smuggling of blood diamonds is not the case that was found only in past but recently more than $23 million diamonds are running to different countries like US. The entertainment industry had played an important role to highlight the check and balance on the trade of diamond industry.(Bowles, 2006).

Now with the help of director, the writer developed two of the three characters. Archer has the most complete arc. He was a selfish man, but we come to recognize that how his attitude changes by thinking of own self and we see a gradual unstiffening of some of his moralities. It is a hard performance from Leonardo DiCaprio, who has grown into this sort of "persistent" roll.

Unlike Archer, Solomon doesn't have an arc. He is resolute in his focus: to find his wife, two daughters, and son. His passion drives the movie forward; when Blood Diamond has firmness, it's because of him. Djimon Hounsou is volcanic in this role. Maddy Bowen was less substantial in her part . Jennifer Connelly does the best she can with the complete part of a committed journalist, but Maddy ends up being mostly undistinguished.(Blood Diamond,2006)

Djimon Hounsou says, that this movie gives him the opportunity to portray the issues which African natives are suffering nowadays. Further he says that treating child as a soldier the refugees and the death of millions of the people throughout the country not only affect the same or very country but other countries too. He says being an African and being working in Bollywood movies he loves to do work on this kind of story in order to aware the world about the miseries of Africans. ( VOA NEWS , 2009).

My job is to apply a theory of Marxism on the movie. So, what is Marxism? Marxism is an economic and social system based upon the political and economic theories of Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels. In Marxism class struggle is the chief element to analyze a social change. The bourgeoisie ,the owners of private property, controls the production of some commodities and hire workers for their labor power.

The workers, proletariats, exchange their work to have money. There is a difference between the value of what the worker makes in remunerations and the value of what the proprietor makes off the worker's labor. This kind of exploitation creates surplus value for the bourgeoisie but does not benefit the proletariat.

The aim of this theory is to bring forward a classless society. The purpose of Marxism is to change this conduct and to look for its improvement as coming out through the struggle for power between different social classes. In simple, it is an economic and social system-based philosophy, in which equality is the central feature of society and there will be no more exploitation of working class. It is the responsibility of the owners to give rights to their workers.

Marxism is totally opposite of capitalism. In capitalism, one tries to get more and more money as one can. The rich get richer and the poor become poorer. This kind of system leads to social inequality and it is based on the exploitation of labors. The worker's revolution is the unavoidable result of exploitation and means of self-determination. Karl Marx also talks about communism; not only him ,both Marx and Engels called their economic theories as "Communism" rather than Marxism. The idea behind this theory is to eliminate the problems that people face and what Marx witnesses in capitalist societies during the industrial revolution. (Ollman ,1976)

Therefore, literary critics talks about their view generally that if they look at historical background of the society whether that society has a class difference or not and it maintains, the social class of the writer and his authentic and strong ideology which should relate to the work of the member of that class. Marxist sees that the author remains in an unchangeable form ,no matter their context is same or not.

Traditionally, Marxist criticism is inclined to deal with the history in an induced way. It discusses the conflict between different social classes and clashes in historical forces, but to popular belief. It actually discusses the specific historical situation in detail and then relate that situation closely to the interpretation of the text that one is analyzing or doing research.(Barry,2002)

Before revolution came into Russia, the official Soviet brashness towards literature and art was very progressive and 'experimental', and typically current forms of art were encouraged. By observing the response of that society, the state began to assert direct control over literature and art. In 1905, Lenin says that literature shaped the political culture, so we should give importance to literature.

Novels and poetry, meanwhile, were treated softly. It must become part of Communist party of Soviet Union. At that time experimentation was banned and given importance to realism. Steiner gives the two main concepts of Marxist criticism. The 'Engelsian', in which he says that it is obligatory that art should be free from political rules, and the 'Leninist' which insists that art is a need to be clearly expressed and committed to the political cause.(Barry,2002)

Different Marxist thinks that literature has been influenced by the work of French Marxist Louis Althusser. As for all, different Marxist has a key term and that is "ideology", and Althusser also talk about this. This term is defined many times by different Marxists. Althusser says that it is a historical rule which are inherited by that society . He describes a term "decentering" which means that structures have no essence , or no focus.

He says that the way of avoiding the view that an economic base is the core of society and the superstructure. The word "decentering" shows that there is no unity and art could be stand by itself and it is determined by its economic level. Then Althusser, another critic makes a distinction in state power and state control. He says that state power is maintained by the system and rules which were repressed , like the army, law courts etcetera and state control is maintained by ideological system ,rules or structures.

These are such groupings as political parties, the media, churches, and art (including literature) which substitute an ideology, a set of ideas and attitudes which are sympathetic to the aims of the state and the political status. An ideological power has a finally greater importance than material power. Thus, literature is shown to be of critical importance, not just a stranded and inactive reflector of the economic base where the real business of society goes on. The main principal of Marxist criticism is that the nature of literature is influenced by the social and political circumstances in which it is produced. (Kelly, 1978).

The English literary critic and cultural theorist, Terry Eagleton, says that Marxism is not simply a 'sociology of literature', and concerned with how novels get published and they mention the working class or not. Its aim is to explain the literary work and it means to look at the forms, styles and, meanings . He also believes that Art is one of an important element for the revolution of History. He recognizes the complicated link between art and ideology.

He asks the writers to absorb both the awareness of reality and commitment to art.(Kaur, 2016)
The theory of Marxism is based on the means of production ,distribution exchange and superstructure which is the cultural world of ideas, norms ,laws ,literature , religion ,education etcetera. Marxist theory argues that the way we think and the way we experience the world around us are trained by the way the economy is organized.

Marxist critics explain the class structure and class relations in a literary work. All knowledgeable and literary production is ideological. Art aims at improving the social and economic conditions. Since literature represents ideology, Marxist critics see it as a way to understand social structures. They look for political ideas and ideologies in a text and explore how society and economic forces influence literature.(Barry,2002)

Many researches have been done on the movie Blood Diamond, but having different research topics. For instance, there is a research done by Mukhaeron (2008), on A Descriptive Study on the Use of American- English Address Terms in the Movie Entitled "Blood Diamond", A Sociolinguistics Approach.

In this research, she studies the way of addressing terms of American English used in the movie entitled Blood Diamond. She also analyzes the communication skills of the characters and how much variation is used in their speech.

The second study is from Sandika (2008), Suffering Behind Luxury in Edward Zwicks Blood Diamond: A Sociological Approach. He analyzes the social spectacles of people who can gain more wages from the condition of the proletariat and it is viewed from sociological perspective especially sociology of the society. His research ends up by this result that the luxury lifestyle of upper class cause suffering to the proletariat. Particularly, among the upper-class that gives a special appreciation to the diamond, without that ,diamond has caused suffering among the lower-class people, particularly conflict area.

The next study is from Kusdantoro (2010), Alienation to Natural Resources In Edward Zwick's Blood diamond (2006): Marxist Approach. In this study the writer concerns the alienation of people especially the lower class or workers in Sierra Leon to their natural resources in Edward Zwick's movie Blood Diamond(2006).

He describes the natural resources of a country should be collected for the wealth of its society. But a poor country with very rich natural resources is always exploited by the materialistic and covetous capitalists for their benefit.

There is another work done by Dissanayake(2013), An Analysis of the Movie "Blood Diamond" from a Socio-Psychological Perspective. In this journal, he describes the social issues in the movie such as cultural issues ,ethnicity problems ,occupational and socio-psychological problems. Another study is from Wahyurini (2010), Struggle for a Better Life In Blood Diamond movie (2006) directed by Edward Zwick: an individual psychological approach. In this research Erna was interested to tell that how one struggles to have a good future by applying individual psychological approach.

The next researcher is Iskawati (2008), entitle "Oppression Against Labor in Edward Zwick's Blood Diamond: Marxist Approach". She used Marxist approach in examining the film. The result of the research showed that the lower class are pushed forward to that stage in which they become cruel victim of that society by upper class.

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Blood Diamond: A Marxist Criticism. (2020, Jun 02). Retrieved from

Blood Diamond: A Marxist Criticism
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