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Diamonds of the Night More at IMDbPro »Démanty noci (original title)

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16 out of 17 people found the following review useful:

Dream-like and haunting. A one of a kind film experience

10/10
Author: Maciste_Brother from the rock
24 June 2008

I saw DIAMONDS OF THE NIGHT one late night and I thought the movie was a recorded dream. It felt so unreal and dream-like that I thought I was inside someone's head and experiencing their dream state. The 60 minute long film is experimental but even so it's more powerful than an entire year's worth of best films. It has a documentary feel to it but the repetitious editing (day-dreams?) and amazing sound-scape obviously pulls it out of that category. The film at times feels more real than reality. The cinematography was jaw-dropping. The image quality of the version I saw was faded and it didn't look like it was a new digital transfer (or maybe that's how the film was made to look like), regardless the look was unique: super fluid editing, camera composition and movement. It's a truly amazing cinematic achievement, probably more so today as it clearly stood the test of time and its experimental qualities resonate beautifully today.

A must see for fans of pure cinema.

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14 out of 17 people found the following review useful:

Visceral Czech Holocaust movie with superb editing

10/10
Author: oOgiandujaOo from United Kingdom
21 July 2010

The movie follows the diamonds of the night, two plucky lads from Prague. The Nazis are giving off bad vibes to our brace of youngins, they're on a train wearing coats with letters KL painted on the back, which look suspiciously like they could be standing for Konzentrationslager (concentration camp). So the geese attempt to climb out of the sauce and jump train. That's the first scene of the movie which is a brilliant tracking shot that should be cinematic history if it's not already regarded as such. They run/stumble to the top of a hill whereupon they collapse, and you can feel their bronchi beseeching air, the blood in their mouths, the two different types of saliva, thick on the roof, thin under the tongue. The guys are less acting than living an experience that the director is demanding of them. It's very reminiscent of the Zanzibar film Le révélateur that came four years later in France, and although the use of sound here is good, it could, very much in common with that film, have been shot without. In that sense it's very cinematic.

The film as a whole is one of the best pieces of editing you can see, and shots of survival in what look like the fir-carpeted foothills of the Sudeten mountains are juxtaposed with memories of Prague, where they have just come from. In particular we see the closed doors of people who won't help them, who we don't see, and rather fabulous Wellesian shots of Josefov and other quiet areas of Prague. A lot of the editing is repetitive and short shots are later expanded on. One example is a ghostly love story that is cut off by the purging of the Jewish areas. The use of sound here is quite good, even in shots where there should be no sound you hear muffled glaucous conversations that make everything seem very strange.

It's another Holocaust shock film really, the shock of the Third Reich has never really gone away, apparently civilised modern society all across Europe disintegrated into a quagmire of venality and self interest, which leads one to wonder whether, even on one's own street, there are not folk who would cheerfully dismember you given abrogation of the usual checks and balances of society.

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14 out of 17 people found the following review useful:

Yes, the woods ARE dark and deep, but...

8/10
Author: boyzonee from Haderslev, Denmark
19 November 2001

"The woods are lovely, dark and deep, But I have promises to keep, And miles to go before I sleep, And miles to go before I sleep."

Some of you may know these Robert Frost lines from the Charles Bronson vehicle "Telefon" where a renegade Soviet intelligence officer (Donald Pleasence) used them for re-activating KGB sleepers in the USA.

In this Czekoslovakian movie the woods are dark and deep indeed, but there's definitely no time to sleep for the two young guys here, on the run from a Nazi concentration camp. The two escapees are being hounded by a band of old (and armed) German villagers, intent on killing them at any cost.

Jan Nemec's film isn't exactly easy to come by, so maybe that's why no one else has a comment on it. I myself haven't had an opportunity to watch it for more than 30 years. It seemed longer then, but actually runs only 63 minutes.

Based on a true story by Arnost Lustig who spent 3 years in Nazi camps and escaped on the way to Dachau. Remarkable b/w cinematography by Jaroslav Kucera and Miroslav Ondrícek that will linger on for a long time. Shouldn't be missed for that reason alone.

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13 out of 17 people found the following review useful:

A jewel that deserves to see the light of day.

10/10
Author: brefane from United States
11 May 2007

This surrealist masterpiece directed by Jan Nemec has had limited exhibition in the US. Mostly seen at film festivals and in museums, this 63 minute film concerns two boys who escape from a train taking them to a Nazi death camp. As they run through dense, rugged and unfamiliar terrain, their escape is interpolated with their dreams, hallucinations, fantasies, and memories. Like Forbidden Games, Fires on the Plains, and Grand Illusion, Diamonds of the Night is an anti-war film that does not deal with actual warfare. With a minimum of dialog, the film conveys the boys' physical and psychological deterioration with a maximum of cinematic bravura. This sadly neglected film deserves a Criterion DVD release.

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12 out of 16 people found the following review useful:

Blew me away.

10/10
Author:
3 October 2002

This is an incredible film. Before viewing it I was told it wasn't available in the states, and what a shame. It's stark visuals and haunting imagery kept me on the edge of my seat. I wouldn't care if I got a version w/o subtitles because their are maybe 10 spoken lines, and time is played with as the viewer follows flash backs forwards and dream sequences. This is the best war movie I have ever seen. The beginning scene running up the hill is bone chilling.

If at all possible watch this movie.

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9 out of 11 people found the following review useful:

Walkabout

Author: chaos-rampant from Greece
27 August 2010

This movie does weird things to me. Not weird in the way of the surrealists, in the way incomprehensible that is like listening to someone talk to a microphone in a large empty hall from a different room, most of it is booming echo and static hiss but if you pause and concentrate now and then a word becomes audible so that after a while the bits and pieces of information form a whole that may not be coherent but is meaningful and whole upon its partial self. This does weird things to me in the way that there's no microphone and no one to talk to it if there was one and you're just sitting there in the large empty hall and you begin to hear words out of thin air.

When it came out mainstream cinema didn't know that language. It's a bit like what a captured Aztec chieftain in chains could tell Spanish audiences of the jungle. Diamonds of the Night tells a story, but that's not all it does, and that's not all it cares about. It tells an experience of life as lived dreamed or hallucinated. It doesn't even describe it to the viewer, it lets the viewer inhabit the experience. The movie opens and we're running through the forest, guns go off in the distance, we're being chased and we're digging our nails in the dirt running uphill and scrambling for cover. Now we're huddling together for warmth in the cold of the night and now we're back in time and memory to relive a broken shrapnel of life as it once was or as we now think it to have been.

Czech New Wave films were usually lighthearted and humorous snapshots of everyday life and they were not removed from their audience. To the extent that they were avantgarde business, they were rarely contrapuntal to a cinema that could be enjoyed by the average Czech who could pay the price of a movie ticket. When Milos Forman or Jiri Menzel showed the foibles of the common folk, they showed it not to amuse or inform the intellectual, they showed it to that same common folk who may still have a father living back in a village. They confirmed life as the people who lived it knowed it to be. Diamonds of the Night is not like that.

It's hard, demanding, cinema that will not appeal to everyone. There's very little dialogue and the storytelling does not follow arcs. It's cyclical and elusive and suggestive of other things that may or may not have happened or happen again as they did, like somebody is after us and we're running in the forest, we're running in circles and now and then we run through the same clearing that we recognize and we see ourselves running through that clearing.

I love this movie so much because it relates an experience of life that I may have dreamed, or an experience of life that I didn't dream but that's how I would dream it. Two escaped inmates of a Nazi concentration camp run from their unseen captors, in the end we see the captors and director Jan Nemec (in a masterstroke of irony, his last name translates to "German") is saying all manner of beautiful things, about innocence torn asunder and about the regenerative cycle of life, about things that will happen again as they did because that's the way of nature. I like it so much because it suggests things about stakes and games, in this case the hunt is the game and human life is the stake, and a game without stakes is no game at all. If the players don't stand to lose something, the game is a game not worth playing, and if the players didn't enter the game of their own accord, as seems to be the case here, yet we find them on the game table does that mean they are not there by some other accord? I adore movies that deal with fatalism in dreamlike terms and Diamonds of the Night does that.

The beauty of it for me is that it doesn't even matter that they escaped a concentration camp and that Nazi hunters are involved. It leaves out the pomp and circumstance and solemn contemplation of the "WWII drama". This could be about any two young people being hunted through any forest for any set of reasons. But someone is being hunted and there's "truth with malice" in that hunt...

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2 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

"I don't speak German."

7/10
Author: morrison-dylan-fan from United Kingdom
10 April 2016

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Talking to my dad about my plans to watch titles from Czech cinema during the Cold War for a month,I was happily caught by surprise when he revealed that he had recently picked up a Czech New Wave (CNW) movie. With it only having a 63 min running time,I decided it was time to uncover the diamonds of the night.

The plot:

Escaping from a train on the way to a Nazi concentration camp,two boys run into the woods.Trying to hide in the moonlight,the boys experience flashbacks from the horrors that they have seen the Nazis commit.Failing to stay hidden,the two boys are caught by a local shooting gang.

View on the film:

Going over the rugged terrain,Second Run gives the title a terrific transfer which retains the grain on the picture whilst offering a clarity to the central sound effects.

Following the boys in the woods with a frantic tracking shot,co- writer/(along with Arnost Lustig) director Jan Nemec delivers his debut with a full immense atmosphere,as Nemec and cinematographer Jaroslav Kucera keep an unreserved distance with jagged CNW panning shots to the boys which grip the war torn landscape in a documentary rawness. Tearing the exposition and dialogue in their adaptation of Lustig's autobiography to the bone, the writers grind the grain from the stark,almost silent images from the horrors of war with a chilling nightmare-logic unravelling of the fractured minds of the two boys,who shine like diamonds in the night.

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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

Groundbreaking Czech new wave cinema

9/10
Author: Tom Dooley from London, United Kingdom
2 May 2015

Made in 1964 this was a film that has more than stood the test of time. It opens with two Jewish boys running from a train transport somewhere in Germany. They are running for their lives and the film captures the sheer fear and desperation perfectly. Using camera techniques that take you with them rather than as a voyeur you are transported with them to their plight. The hand held camera is often used to show in graphic detail the hardships they go through.

They are starving, wet and cold – add to this the exhaustion and fear and you can feel only pity for these two lads. The film also uses flash backs and dream sequences to things that may or have happened and repeated visuals of nightmares and glimpses of what might have been. Instead of acting as an alienation device though, these techniques help to explore the complex feelings and mind sets of the boys.

At only 68 minutes long it does seem to fly by but it is a film you will remember long afterwards. In some scenes the boys have the letters 'KL' painted on their backs. I tried to find out what this was referencing and I think it indicated that they were inmates of the concentration camp at Krakov – this would fit with them being transported to another camp which is the film's back story. This is a brilliant, stark, moving and exceptional piece of film making that I can highly recommend to cinema history fans.

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Lacks something that really makes a difference

4/10
Author: Thomas (filmreviews@web.de) from Berlin, Germany
12 September 2016

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

"Démanty noci" is a Czechoslovakian movie from 1964, which means it is over 50 years old already. The director is Jan Nemec and he is also the one who adapted Arnost Lustig's story "Darkness has no Shadows". The film's international title, however, is "Diamonds of the Night" and for Nemec it is one of his most famous works, even if it has not received as much awards attention as some of the other stuff he did during his career. Nemec died earlier this year and this film we have here is among his early career works, he was not even 30 when he made it. It is the story of two boys fleeing from the Nazis and it is a black-and-white film that runs for only slightly over an hour, relatively short. Now you have all the basic information and can decide for yourself if you want to see it. The good news for foreign audiences is that there is almost no dialogue in here at all, so you can watch it without subtitles. Sadly, this is also one of the reasons why it is, on many occasions, pretty difficult here to see and understand what exactly is going on. It is certainly a very artsy film that has its very own niche despite the subject being very frequent of course in film. And it is a subject that I usually have a great interest in. But neither of the characters nor the story as a whole managed to make me care for any of the aspects or protagonists here. It was more weird than entertaining or informative. I don't recommend the watch.

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3 out of 15 people found the following review useful:

Really liked it at first, then...

7/10
Author: wadetaylor from Memphis
20 November 2004

This movie was hard to come by but I found it at the public library for rent. The video included Nemec's A Loaf of Bread, which oddly had subtitles, in German! I know as much German as Czech. Anyway about Diamonds of the Night. At the beginning I really liked the use of hand held camera and even without spoken word I knew what was going on, but as the movie progressed it over-surrealized itself, without establishing itself as a work of surrealism. I am not sure if the tape had the complete version because it just seemed to end with no resolution. Since no one else apparently has seen it, I may never know. It wasn't very long, and was pretty cool at first I'll give it 7/10.

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