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613 Ratings

Diamonds of the Night

Démanty noci

Directed by Jan Němec
Czechoslovakia, 1964
War, Drama


Czechoslovakia, World War II. Two young prisoners escape from a concentration camp-bound train. Hungry, poorly dressed and exhausted, they wander in the woods for three days before being captured by local peasants on a charge of stealing bread. Their journey to freedom is suddenly being threatened.

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Diamonds of the Night Directed by Jan Němec
Diamonds of the Night, Němec’s startling debut feature, translates the author’s sense of imminent mortality into a vivid atmosphere of free-floating menace that whips up the novel’s mix of real-time experience, memories, and dreams into one heterogenous montage, eschewing any aesthetic cues to delineate the separate planes.
May 09, 2019
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Its opening images—of two nameless young men sprinting desperately through a field, fleeing from a pack of invisible pursuers as gunshots echo in the near distance—waste no time building momentum or laying down exposition. The effect is startling: it’s as if the film has been playing for an hour already and we, its dozing viewers, were just now snapping back into focus.
November 06, 2013
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In 64 fleet minutes, we’re utterly and overwhelmingly immersed in a Jewish fugitive’s singular experience, from hunger pains to hallucinatory reveries. Nemec’s 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 Jánsky’s angelic face). It’s a torrent of life—and cinema—in the face of death.
November 05, 2013
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