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‘Blood Diamond’

These aren't diamonds for throwing up in the sky. Get the skinny on this intense drama which opens today.

They say you can’t get blood from a stone, but the team behind the new film, Blood Diamond would beg to differ. Set in Sierra Leone in the 1999, the film follows a mercenary (Leonardo DiCaprio), a fisherman (Djimon Hounsou), and a journalist (Jennifer Connelly) whose lives intersect in a path to recover a priceless diamond. Far from an ordinary action film, the movie raises awareness about blood diamonds, or conflict diamonds: gems mined in war zones to finance conflict. Sounds a bit too heavy to munch popcorn to, so you globally-minded folk might want to move your mouths in another way. Here’s our conversational trivia, sure to prove to your date that you’re a Diamond in the rough.

1. Diamonds from Sierra Leone: In 2005, “Diamonds from Sierra Leone” was Kanye West’s Shirley Bassey-sampling jam about Roc-A-Fella — that is, until he learned more about the plight of the children who mine conflict diamonds. He recorded a remix of his original track with Jay-Z and re-wrote the lyrics to be more politically minded: “Though it’s thousands of miles away / Sierra Leone connect to what we go through today / Over here, its a drug trade, we die from drugs / Over there, they die from what we buy from drugs / The diamonds, the chains, the bracelets, the charmses / I thought my Jesus piece was so harmless / ’til I seen a picture of a shorty, armless.” West was awarded the 2006 Best Rap Song at the Grammys for his effort, and his protege, Lupe Fiasco, “flipped” West’s track on his own effort, “Conflict Diamonds.”

2. Lights, Camera, Global Witness and Amnesty International have launched, a website made in conjunction with the movie to educate consumers. Not only does the site feature the movie trailer, stills, and the song “Shine On ‘Em” by Nas, it includes resources such as fact sheets about issues like the Kimberly Process (the government run program to stop the conflict diamond trade), a list of questions for jewelry connoisseurs looking to shop for smarter, safer sparklers, and links to petitions for concerned citizens to send to Congress and leaders in the diamond industry.

3. I Owe it All to Hue: The pink diamond sought by the characters in the movie isn’t some screenwriter’s flight of fancy. Pink and blue diamonds, like the famous Hope Diamond that resides in the Smithsonian, can have increased value. In that case, maybe Elizabeth Taylor should have called her perfume “Blue Diamonds” instead of “White Diamonds.”

4. Stumped: In late October, New York Post’s Page Six reported that the producers of Blood Diamond promised they would fit all of the child amputees they’d recruited as extras with prosthetic limbs after shooting wrapped in June, in addition to paying them the standard day rate for their work as extras. Allegedly, producers then told them later that they’d wait until the movie’s release to start the project. Eastern Cape, a local charity in Africa, stepped up in the interim, and outfitted the amputees with limbs, but said if the studio is still willing to pay, the money will help other amputees.

5. A Wealth of Knowledge and a Knowledge of Wealth: Jennifer Connelly, for her role as Maddy Bowen, a journalist setting out to expose the corruption in the diamond industry, did character research by talking to her pals. “I have a friend who, it so happens, had been in Sierra Leone in 1999 writing a piece on conflict diamonds,” says Connelly on the film’s website. “I got a lot of information and insight from her and from friends of hers. I became very intrigued by these women who were always fiercely intelligent and knowledgeable and often, I found, deeply feisty. I saw an apparent love of adventure, matched by an unflinching commitment to their work. I think that combination of attributes also applies to Maddy.”

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