The more you hear about a film that presents a humanistic portrait of an afflicted people and their oppressors, and the more you hear about a director’s humane, liberal views about the social particulars behind the film or that were used as a kind of socio-textural backdrop during its making, the more curious…okay, suspicious you are about how the movie plays by regular-guy, hang-the-politics standards.
Blood Diamond director Ed Zwick isn’t exactly the Stanley Kramer of his time but he sounds like Kramer, a ’50s and ’60s Hollywood liberal who made socially- minded films with liberal philosophies, in this phone interview with Nikki Finke, and the more I read it, the more I smelled liberal smoke.
Zwick was looking to quash a negative rumor that he and the film’s big-name stars — Leonardo DiCaprio, Jennifer Connelly, Djimon Hounsou — promised to supply prosthetic limbs for some teenaged orphans and child amputees from South Africa’s South Zulu Nataal and Mozambique’s Maputo, where the film was shot, and then reneged and took off back to the States. “This is a very cynical and appalling tack to take and in the worst taste, especially given what we all tried to do while we were there.” Zwick said in a phoner from London. “What I do think is this is the work of someone who clearly bears the film ill will.”
The long and the short is that Zwick, DiCaprio, Connelly, Hounsou, other cast and crew members plus “producers like Paula Weinstein” coughed up some change (i.e., presumably several grand each) that went into a fund, and then Warner Bros. matched. it The “Blood Diamond Fund” came to somewhere between $200,000 and $500,000, Finke reports.
It was just a drop in the bucket but a humane thing to do all around, etc., even if, when you get right down to it, prosthetic limbs haven’t in fact been purchased with the donated funds.
The money went to a lot of needy causes, but the people charged with assessing needs and where to invest the money haven’t yet specificaly bought any prosthetic limbs. “The fund has gotten to a number of things on the list,” Zwick tells Finke, “but there’s more to go. And in the list of things to do, prosthetics are part of that list.”
Bottom line: Zwick, Hounsou, DiCaprio, Connnelly, Weinstein, et. al. are good people who did the right thing, but be wary of Blood Diamond because of the above-mentoned equation. I’ve heard from a guy who’s seen it. He didn’t call it problematic in any kind of pronounced way — he mainly said not bad, pretty good, etc. — but he did say it was very Zwick-y.