Diamonds of the Night

(Démanty noci)
Czechoslovakia 1964. Director: Jan Němec
Cast: Ladislav Janský, Antonín Kumbera, Ilse Bischofová, Ivan Asič, August Bischof

NEW 35MM PRINT! The haunting, hallucinatory tale of two Jewish boys who escape a Nazi death train, Jan Němec’s debut feature, adapted from a novel by Arnošt Lustig, is a surrealist masterpiece — “a daring attempt to film states of mind” (D. and A. J. Liehm) that evokes the early cinema of Buñuel (especially Un chien andalou). “Němec’s conviction that a director must create ‘a personal style’ and ‘a world independent of reality as it appears at the time’ was already evident in his first feature. Diamonds follows the escape of two young concentration camp prisoners through the woods of Sudetenland and the ensuing pursuit of them. Moving freely between the present, dreams, and flashbacks, Němec employs an aesthetic of Pure Cinema to depict the state of the distressed human mind” (IK). “Best known as an early salvo of the Czech New Wave, Němec’s debut stunner feels even more potent now that it’s been freed of the expectations and delineations of a national movement. In 64 fleet minutes, we’re utterly and overwhelmingly immersed ... It’s a torrent of life — and cinema — in the face of death” (Eric Hynes, Time Out New York). B&W, 35mm, in Czech and German with English subtitles. 64 mins.

 

REVIEWS

"A remarkable directorial debut ... its mood of desperation and paranoia works a grim magic."

Chicago Reader | full review