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Diamonds of the Night

Démanty noci
Directed by: Jan Němec
Czechoslovakia 196467' de/cs

The clear sound of a ringing bell is interrupted by silence and rumbling tracks. Having escaped from a train taking them to a concentration camp, two physically and mentally exhausted young men seek refuge—in the present, in the past, in their imagination, and in dreams. Upon leaving the forest, they meet locals of Sudetenland who alleviate their thirst and hunger, but also hunt down and capture them…

Němec’s feature debut is an adaptation of the autobiographical story Darkness Casts No Shadow by Arnošt Lustig. Němec called his style ‘oneiric realism’—marked by dreamlike visual composition, minimal dialogue, and silence as a dramatic element. In this way the viewer receives the message without temptation to compare what is going on in the film with reality. Němec made all his films in a hurry, fearing that he would not be allowed to finish them; he considered it ‘the obligation of every thinking person to attack obstacles to freedom in every way at his disposal’.

Foreword by the programme curator: A manifesto of cinematic visuality: makes one forget plot narrative and playfully draws into the myth of existentialism.