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Black Movie, White Heart


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I recall Rosenbaum once slammed Beyond Rangoon because it was another Hollywood movie that put a white hero(ine) at the center of crisis in a nonwhite world. He called it cultural imperialism or something.

Yet Blood Diamond does the same thing. You get a white hero falling in love with white heroine in the jungles of Africa, where blacks be killing each other over diamonds. Yet Rosenbaum has no problem with the racial dynamics of this movie.

Is Rosenbaum ever consistent about anything? Why was it wrong for Boorman to use a white woman to tell the story of oppression in Burma, but it's OK for Zwick to use a white man/woman to tell the story of madness in Sierra Leone?


Jonathan Rosenbaum replies:

The letter writer fails to mention the character, noted in my review, played by Djimon Hounsou--the Mende fisherman who essentially begins and ends the film and defines it even more than the two white stars do. In my capsule review of Beyond Rangoon (1995) I criticized the premise that "the slaughter of the Burmese populace becomes significant only to the degree that an American tourist . . . becomes personally involved with it." No such premise involving the slaughter of Africans is present in Blood Diamond. The film may be hokum, but it's more substantial hokum than Beyond Rangoon.

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