Friday, January 19, 2007

Blood Diamond (Edward Zwick, 2006)

Blood Diamond (Edward Zwick, 2006)


Edward Zwick has always been the champion of a kind of earnest, well-meaning, rather flatfooted moviemaking that demands one's respect more than it actually earns it, from "Glory" (1989, about noble black soldiers fighting in the American Civil War--well, actually about a white man leading a company of noble black soldiers in the Civil War), to "The Last Samurai" (2003--white man accompanying a company of noble Japanese warriors in the Satsuma Rebellion). If there's an auteurist trend here--a signature to be found in Zwick's scattershot portfolio--it's in Zwick's wholesale and unashamed embrace of the hoariest melodramatic clichés, from the misunderstood officer in "Courage Under Fire" (1996) to the flawed white man redeemed by his charity work among the colored people ("Glory;" "The Last Samurai;" his latest picture "Blood Diamond") to The Beautiful Love Interest, Inspiring the Hero to Be a Better Man ("The Last Samurai;" "Blood Diamond"). Maybe the most fun I've ever had in a Zwick movie was the nutty "Legends of the Fall" (1994) where Zwick actually gives his overworked idealism a rest, aims for pure romanticism, and achieves sheer hilarity. Brad Pitt plays an ubermensch romantic, a poet of the soul and Bowie knife who acts gallantly towards his brother's wife (they eventually end up rolling in the hay together) but is hard on neighboring bears, at least one of which he maims by cutting off a claw; he scalps German soldiers during World War 1 and spends most of his life wandering the world as a kind of Hemingwayesque adventurer, hunting anything that moves. By picture's end Pitt's character is killed by bear, a scene which Zwick treats as high tragedy, though it struck me more as a low comedy on karma.


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