Diamonds are a form of art, a form of expression. It’s no wonder then that diamonds & movies go hand in hand.
Natural diamonds have played a ubiquitous role in movies ever since the 1930s. Marilyn Monroe rightly sang “Diamonds are a girl’s best friend,” but what she forgot to tell us is that they are also a thief’s best haul. Stories of criminal masterminds swindling away diamonds in elaborate robberies have captured Hollywood as well as the Indian filmmaker’s imagination for decades.
Why a diamond, though? Have you ever wondered? I did and then realised it’s because a diamond makes a promise like no other. A promise to revive a moment, a memory, a forever kind of love, or the sheer thrill of its acquisition – which makes the gem so much more desirable!
But more often than not, they represent something larger than themselves. Various genres of films have portrayed natural diamonds in so many different ways. My favourite though are diamond heist films.
I find them pacy, sophisticated, glamorous, edgy, and thrilling. Pretty much all the qualities of a real diamond itself.
A great example would be the Oscar-nominated film, A Fish Called Wanda, where a gang of diamond thieves repeatedly double-cross each other whilst trying to acquire stolen diamonds. Funnily so, the film’s protagonists weren’t chasing a lady love or a villain…they were after natural diamonds. Not expensive art or fancy cars, but diamonds! Because when it comes to heists, diamonds are associated with the highest degree of value, wealth, and material allure.
Likewise in the 1963 film, The Pink Panther, a jewel thief along with his nephew conspired to steal the world’s largest diamond from a Princess. The Pink Panther diamond, “a piece of fiction,” was actually acknowledged in its time to be the most famous Pink Diamond in Hollywood.
Yes, diamonds can be famous too! Whether it’s the Sankara Diamonds in ‘Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom’ which were famous for having magical powers that could transform the entire world, or the 84 Carat Diamond in ‘Snatch’ which got swallowed by a dog. Whether it’s the seventh 007 film, ‘Diamonds Are Forever’, where diamonds were used to build a dangerous and life-threatening laser or the larger than life Blue Diamond in ‘Titanic’ that came to be known as the “Heart of the Ocean”.
One thing stood out in all these films…one thing got all the limelight and fame – The Diamond!
Over the years, diamond heists have become one of the most sought after genres of film making. Let’s consider the case of two widely popular movies – ‘Oceans 13’ and ‘Oceans 8’. ‘Oceans 13’ had Brad Pitt, George Clooney, Matt Damon and the rest of the boy gang unite to steal a 250-million-dollar diamond necklace from a casino owner’s wife. ‘Oceans 8’ saw Sandra Bullock, Anne Hathaway, Cate Blanchett and the rest of the girl gang stealing a diamond necklace worth 150 million dollars from the MET Gala. It is no coincidence that the object of the heist in both those movies was a diamond necklace, corroborating the fact that both men and women will risk their lives for diamonds. Yes, diamonds have intrigued both men and women alike!
The Indian Film Industry backs the theory too, as they have produced many movies that revolve around natural diamonds. The legendary ‘Andaz Apna Apna’ brought together Bollywood’s biggest stars, Aamir Khan and Salman Khan, in a comedy of errors. By procuring a handful of natural diamonds, the duo was able to win over the hearts of their respective lady loves. Diamonds to the rescue, again! The blockbuster ‘Dhoom 2’ revolved around the handsome hunk Hrithik Roshan and his sultry partner Aishwarya Rai Bachchan who adorned various disguises to steal a precious diamond from a museum. But what shone more than the bronzed bodies of the actors was the diamond they were after.
What’s fascinating though is that these diamond thieves always left a mark or a symbol at the scene of the crime. Why? Well, I’d say they wanted the “credit” of stealing the precious gems, the fame that was attached to it, and the manic sensation associated with a diamond heist. They wanted it all.
I’ve often asked myself what it is about heist films that makes the genre so exciting. Why do we love watching smooth criminals when, in real life, thieves are frowned upon? Why do we consider the protagonists who are plotting, planning and executing the theft of diamonds to be ‘heroes’? Despite them being crooks, why do we, the audience, root for them to succeed in their endeavour?
The answer’s quite simple. We justify their actions because maybe, just maybe, we secretly want what they’re trying to steal.
After all, don’t diamonds excite us all? The sparkle, the extravagance, and the prestige makes everything worthwhile!
Whether it’s in a sweet romantic film or an action-packed thriller, a fashion statement or the target of a heist, a natural diamond conveys a “wealth” of ideas – glamour, beauty, grace, love, romance, commitment, and above all, a thrill like no other.