Rent Diamonds of the Night (1964)

3.9 of 5 from 75 ratings
1h 4min
Rent Diamonds of the Night (aka Démanty Noci) Online DVD & Blu-ray Rental
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Synopsis:
Jan Nemec's debut feature, "Diamonds of the Night" is one of the most thrilling and startlingly original works of cinema. Told almost without dialogue, it chronicles the tense and desperate journey of two teenage boys who are trying to stay alive after escaping from a German train bound for a Nazi concentration camp during World War II. With its virtuoso cinematography, inspired editing and brilliantly utilised soundtrack, the film is a landmark of the ill-fated Czech New Wave. Its themes of man's perpetual struggle to preserve human dignity in the face of unimaginable horrors are just as relevant today.
Actors:
Ladislav Jánsky, Antonín Kumbera, Irma Bischofova, Ivan Asic, August Bischof, Josef Koblizek, Josef Koggel, Josef Kubat, Rudolf Lukásek, Bohumil Moudry, Karel Navratil, Evzen Pichl, Frantisek Procházka, Jan Riha, Anton Schich
Directors:
Writers:
Arnost Lustig, Jan Nemec
Aka:
Démanty Noci
Studio:
SECOND RUN DVD
Genres:
Classics, Drama
Countries:
Czechoslovakia, Classics, Drama
BBFC:
Release Date:
10/05/2010
Run Time:
64 minutes
Languages:
Czech
Subtitles:
English
DVD Regions:
Region 2
Formats:
Pal
Aspect Ratio:
Full Screen 1.33:1 / 4:3
Colour:
B & W
Bonus:
  • Newly filmed appreciation by author and film programmer Peter Hames
  • Photo gallery
BBFC:
Release Date:
21/01/2019
Run Time:
68 minutes
Languages:
Czech LPCM Mono
Subtitles:
English
Formats:
Pal
Aspect Ratio:
Full Screen 1.37:1
Colour:
B & W
BLU-RAY Regions:
(0) All
Bonus:
  • A Loaf of Bread (Sousto, 1960) - Jan Nemec's debut short film based on the story by Arnost Lustig
  • New filmed interview with Eva Lustigova, daughter of author Arnost Lustig
  • Audio commentary by film historian Michael Brooke
  • An appreciation of the film by Peter Hames
  • World premiere release on Blu-ray

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Reviews (1) of Diamonds of the Night

Another Sense of an Ending - Diamonds of the Night review by CH

Spoiler Alert
08/02/2021

With the advent of the talkies, cinema lost something at first. They were often far too, well, talkative; composition was lost as filmed theatre held sway. In a while the virtue of selective sound was understood - and every now and then such films as Silent Movie and The Artist have shown that there can be a substantial audience for a silent movie. Diamonds of the Night (1964) is unlikely ever to pack 'em in but its influence these past six decades has been has been quietly considerable.

It is not exactly silent. There are perhaps a dozen lines of brisk Czech dialogue in its hour, and many a sound of gunfire and other noises on the air (where else are noises?). Directed by Jan Nemec (his first film), it was adapted by him with Arnost Lustig from the latter's novel, which was based upon his own wartime experiences.

Two teenagers (Ladislav Jansky, Antonin Kumbera) are heading for the wooded hills, ducking bullets and the usual absurd calls of “halt!”. One is already injured; hobbling, he is aided by the other.

It emerges that they have escaped from a wagon train on its way to a concentration camp. The great success of the film is that a chase up a hill becomes something much greater, for it cuts to and fro in time - back to that hellish train and, so it seems, forwards to escape. As with so much of the Czech new wave, there is a blending of reality and fantasy, the wonderful black and white cinematography becomes, every now and then, a bleached-out cityscape suggestive of delusion under fire. Harrowingly real, it is also surreal, with a Bunelesque use of ants consuming a foot.

No shot (filmwise, that is) lasts long. Here is a masterclass in editing, partly the work of Miroslav Ondricek who was later to work with, among many others, Lindsay Anderson whose own combining of fantasy with gritty takes on contemporary life owed much to his Czech studies.

To say how all this turns out would be unfair - even if one knew. Suffice to say that here is a film whose wartime hillside bears comparison with that familiar from La Grande Illusion.

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