Blood Diamond - Redemption for those who endure
I've watched movies with violence before, but last night, sitting through some of the early scenes in Blood Diamond was nearly too much for me: lots of blood spilled, and scenes of children being taught to kill, during which I could feel the anger, shock, and grief coursing through my body. But I endured, and need to say that I'm glad I did. It's one of the best movies of the year.
There are two stories for people of faith to consider. The first is the story of Leonardo's redemption. I don't mean his redemption as an actor (though I must say that he's made a remarkable recovery since that sinking ship of a film called "Titanic"). Rather, I mean the character's redemption within the story. It's a powerful and beautiful picture of how someone's heart of stone can become a heart of flesh, and the role that emotion, beauty, and confrontation all play in turning the heart. In particular, that little village, mid-film, where children were being cared for so wonderfully, seemed to be a picture to me of our calling as Christians: we're to be in the midst of creating bastions of safety and beauty in the midst of an unsafe and ugly world. (Leonardo's real life response to the orphans who were extras in the film is touching too)
The other story, of course, is how our collective choices as consumers effect the lives of families in the farthest corners of the world - often for the worse rather than the better. Do I think about the coffee I drink, the car I drive, and the food I eat, as having anything to do with my faith? I assure you that these things matter because they make a statement: either we're reinforcing and supporting power structures of this world that degrade, pollute, and oppress, or we're contradicting them (even if only in a small way).
Still another story is the harsh reality of children soldiers, documented here.
Finally, there's the matter of whether Christians should watch movies with violence and swearing. Somehow, I think the violence of the Bible was intended to shock us as much as violence in films like this shock us, but we've become immune to the power of the Bible's stories through re-telling and wrong telling. Thus, it seems to me, movies like this one can sometimes shake us out of complacency quite effectively and bring principles from the scripture to life in practical, relevant ways. Those are my thoughts anyway, but I would say with Paul that when it comes to watching movies like this, 'each one must be convinced in his/her own heart.'