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Diamonds of the Night

Jan Němec

With this simultaneously harrowing and lyrical debut feature, Jan Nmec established himself as the most uncompromising visionary among the radical filmmakers who made up the Czechoslovak New Wave. Adapted from a novel by Arnot Lustig, Diamonds of the Night closely tracks two boys who escape from a concentration-camp transport and flee into the surrounding woods, hostile terrain where the brute realities of survival coexist with dreams, memories, and fragments of visual poetry. Along with visceral camera work by Jaroslav Kuera and Miroslav Ondíektwo of Czechoslovak cinemas most influential cinematographersNmec makes inventive use of fractured editing, elliptical storytelling, and flights of surrealism as he strips context away from this bare-bones tale, evoking the panicked delirium of consciousness lost in night and fog.

“Diamonds of the Night, Nmecs startling debut feature, translates the authors sense of imminent mortality into a vivid atmosphere of free-floating menace that whips up the novels mix of real-time experience, memories, and dreams into one heterogenous montage, eschewing any aesthetic cues to delineate the separate planes.” – Slant

“Its opening imagesof two nameless young men sprinting desperately through a field, fleeing from a pack of invisible pursuers as gunshots echo in the near distancewaste no time building momentum or laying down exposition. The effect is startling: its as if the film has been playing for an hour already and we, its dozing viewers, were just now snapping back into focus.” – Film Comment

” Nemecs technique is as emotionally intuitive as it is masterful, purposefully scrambling past and present, handheld realism (a breathless opening tracking shot) and Buñuellian surrealism (fever-dreamed ants colonizing Jánskys angelic face). Its a torrent of lifeand cinemain the face of death.” – Time Out

“This remarkable directorial debut (1964) by 27-year-old Jan Nemec is a bleak, alternately realistic and hallucinatory examination of four days in the lives of two young escapees from the Nazis; its mood of desperation and paranoia works a grim magic.” – Reader


  • 1/19 | 5:00PM
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