Cinematography plays a key role in the development of a film. It is used to set tone, location, and add a layer of depth to the action that is taking place within the frame. Blood Diamond uses this to great effect, allowing the viewer to better grasp the chaos and uncertainty that takes place within the illegal diamond trade of Sierra Leone.
First and foremost, the cinematography in Blood Diamond paints a beautiful picture of the African wilderness with long portrait shots of mountains, and tranquil pans scanning across the mostly uninhabited landscape. This offers two different perspectives, the innocence and beauty of the uncorrupted African landscape, and at the same time the setting for some of the most brutal actions against human rights. A few key examples of this are the opening scene of a local fisherman walking his son home from school. Everything is quiet and settled on their home front until a group of rebels storm their small village and take the fisherman captive. Against the backdrop of sunny African day, a man has his hand hacked off and is subsequently killed at the hands of the rebels. Another strong scene that represents the duality of this particular cinematography takes place at the end of the film during its climax. Searching for his lost son, the fisherman and a local diamond smuggler engage in a firefight with the child army of a rebel warlord, spilling gallons of blood in the process. Fatally wounded during the shootout, the smuggler sits atop a mountain as he provides cover fire for the fisherman and his reunited son to escape. As he lies dying above the chaos below, the smuggler stares out into the void, seeing a beautiful landscape portrait of the African countryside, while war rages below.
There are also many tracking and dolly shots in this film that are used to escalate the tension of war torn Sierra Leone, particularly when rebels invade Cape Town and pillage everything in their path.