Personally, I've never understood the appeal of bling. I realize bling is a symbol of wealth, power, and how far one has come, but to me it seems bling is more about bragging and showing off. In some ways, I find it disrespectful in the sense that it gives children the idea that bling equals success and is essential to life. In reality, it's little more than material goods. In the documentary "Bling-A Planet Rock," director Raquel Cepeda thankfully sheds new light on the topic by showing where bling comes from and how insignificant it is when compared to a human's life/way of living.
The documentary centers around three rappers (Paul Wall, Tego Calderon, and Raekwon from the Wu-Tang Clan) whom are accompanied by a former child soldier named Ishamel Beah on a trip to Sierra Leone to discover the history of blood/conflict diamonds and the effects it has had on the country. Along the way, the three encounter abused women, poverty stricken people, amputees (victims of the war), and the trio even visit a diamond mine. The documentary also contains a few short interviews in the opening minutes with artists such as Kanye West and Jadakiss.
First of all, I have to applaud director Raquel Cepeda for not merely doing a documentary on the dirty truth about bling, but by also letting rap artists experience the truth face to face. It's one thing to see and hear about the diamond conflict, it's another to see the effects the conflict has had in real life. For the most part, the three artists seemed deeply affected by what they saw. Raekwon was truly angry, sad, and generally overwhelmed, although a part of me thinks that he and the others will try to forget what they saw as the dose of reality proved to be too upsetting. Hopefully, they all came out of this experience with a different perspective and that they will inform others of their experience. The same goes with anyone who sees this film.
One aspect of the film bothered me slightly. The former child soldier Ishmael Beah just plain creeped me out. When he was re-telling the story of his times as a child soldier, a slight smile crept across his face when he talked about killing and drugs. I'm not sure if this was a nervous smile or what, but it was unsettling to be sure.
The 1.78:1 widescreen picture quality won't blow you away (since it is a documentary). However, one doesn't look for the quality of film on documentaries to begin with. With that said, the picture is better than average and the subtitles are very bright and clear. More foreign films or films with subtitles should use this film as an example of how to properly display subtitles.
The Dolby Digital 5.0 Surround sound does a commendable job of balancing the rap music and the interviews/footage of everyone. A Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo track is also included on this disk.
Extras? Not on this disk.
Overall, "Bling- A Planet Rock" is an eye-opening experience for those unaware of where some bling comes from and how bling is not all it's cracked up to be. Worth a rent, but the movie is nothing you would ever view again.
Film and television enthusiast Nick Lyons recently had his first book published titled "Attack of the Sci-Fi Trivia." It is available on Amazon.com.