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Diamond Skulls

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Diamond Skulls
Directed byNick Broomfield
Produced byTim Bevan
Jane Fraser
Written byNick Broomfield
Tim Rose Price
Music byHans Zimmer
CinematographyMichael Coulter
Edited byRodney Holland
Release date
Sept 1989 (London Film Festival)
Running time

Diamond Skulls (also known as Dark Obsession) is a British 1989 thriller directed by Nick Broomfield who also co-wrote with Tim Rose-Price. An established documentary filmmaker, this is Broomfield's first work of fiction.[1] It is produced by Tim Bevan and Jane Fraser and stars Amanda Donohoe, Gabriel Byrne and Struan Rodger and has a music score by Hans Zimmer. It includes the last film performance of Ian Carmichael.[2]


Lord Hugo Bruckton is a young Englishman who is the heir to a vast fortune. He is married to Ginny, who seems devoted and loyal to him, and they have a young son. But Hugo is haunted by jealousy, for he imagines Ginny in the arms of a colleague. He begins to spy on her and goes into a rage over her suspected infidelity. One night, after a social gathering with members of his old British Army regiment, Hugo and his friends go out for a drive. He accidentally runs over a woman, who dies at the scene. All but one of his friends urge Hugo to drive on. In his drunk state of mind, Hugo had imagined himself running over Ginny.

Over the next few days, a psychological war ensues. Peter, Hugo's business associate, wants to use the cover-up to leverage power over the estate. Jamie, who's dating Hugo's sister, wants to go to the police to report it. Hugo's family closes ranks as Ginny and the rest side with Hugo, who fears that his arrest and imprisonment will ruin the family's reputation. As the police investigation closes in on Hugo, the power struggle leads to deadly consequences.

At the end, Peter and Hugo murder Jamie and arrange it to look like a suicide--that it had been Jamie driving the car that killed the woman--and he had killed himself out of guilt by throwing his dead body off a seaside cliff. The police believe the story and close the case, and the amoral Hugo gets away with everything as he continues his sordid and unwholesome life undisturbed.



Diamond Skulls received an NC-17 rating upon its release in the United States during June 1991.


Diamond Skulls received generally mixed reviews: the film carries a 36% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes based on 11 reviews, with a weighted average of 5.93/10.[3] The film was given two thumbs up by Siskel & Ebert.[4]

In the New York Times review Diamond Skulls; Aristocracy When It Thinks No One is Looking, Janet Maslin considered that "rarely does a documentary film maker make the transition to fiction as adroitly as Nicholas Broomfield has in Dark Obsession, a psychological thriller displaying a documentarian's fascination for small, telling details." Maslin also praised "an eerie score by Hans Zimmer, a chilling performance by Struan Rodger as Sir Hugo's cold blooded business associate and the unremarked upon inclusion of many odd bits of traditionalism that have presumably made men like Sir Hugo what they are".[5]


  1. ^ Barnett, Interview by Laura (11 September 2007). " Portrait of the artist: Nick Broomfield, documentary-maker". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 5 February 2016.
  2. ^ "Diamond-Skulls – Cast, Crew, Director and Awards – NYTimes.com". 25 March 2016. Retrieved 19 June 2016. (slow loading, as are links)
  3. ^ "Diamond Skulls (Dark Obsession)". www.rottentomatoes.com. Retrieved 28 June 2019.
  4. ^ Ebert, Roger. "Dark Obsession Movie Review & Film Summary (1991) | Roger Ebert". www.rogerebert.com. Retrieved 19 June 2016.
  5. ^ "New York Times Review- Diamond Skulls; Aristocracy When It Thinks No One Is Looking". by Janet Maslin, 7 June 1991
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