Greatest Film Scenes
and Moments

Diamonds of the Night (1964)


Written by Tim Dirks

Title Screen
Movie Title/Year and Scene Descriptions

Diamonds of the Night (1964, Czech.) (Démanty Noci)

In Czechoslovakian New Wave director Jan Nemec's uncompromising, stark, and expressionistic, nightmarish war drama with very little dialogue - his feature film debut - an hour-long, minimalist, compelling experimental work (with many hand-held camera shots) about the Holocaust:

  • the opening B/W sequence of the tense and desperate escape from a train by two exhausted, teenaged Jewish-Czech boys: thin, tall and injured 1st Boy (Ladislav Jansky), and younger, dark-haired 2nd Boy (Antonin Kumbera) while being transported in Dachau from one concentration death camp to another; with extreme close-ups of their faces and hands as they breathed heavily, scrambled and struggled to run up a hill in one lengthy, continuous and uninterrupted shot, with the sounds of Nazi-Germans behind them crying out: "Halt!", with gunfire and screeching train brakes
  • their fugitive status for a few days in the woods (they wore jackets emblazoned with KL (Konzentration Lager/Concentration Camp)), where they faced severe conditions of survival (overcoming starvation, the elements, lack of shelter, injuries, complete fatigue)
  • the frequent interruptions by a series of elliptical, non-linear, baffling and surreal flash-cuts or flashbacks, dream-fantasies and fragmented memories, including an image of ants swarming on a hand and in one of the boy’s eye sockets (in homage to Luis Bunuel's sequences in Un Chien Andalou (1929))
  • the depiction of one of the boy's internal streams of consciousness -- the struggles in his mind when confronting a stern-looking, wary village woman in her farmhouse - he experienced delusional fantasies of violence and sex (should he assault the woman, knock her out to silence her, rape her, and steal food - or trust her and accept an offer of food?); in the end, the two boys accepted pieces of dried bread and milk, but it caused their sore gums and mouths to bleed
Delusional Fantasies of Violence and Sex With Village Woman
  • their recapture by a group of senile, elderly, motley group of armed German peasant-hunters or local militia, and their sentencing by a village official to be shot by a firing squad for stealing bread, while the old men - the boys' captors - celebrated by noisily drinking, carousing, eating and dancing
  • and the film's ambiguous, open-ended double-conclusion - were the boys shot in the back as they walked away from the firing squad, or did they escape back into the black forest? (Didn't the audience hear the shots that killed them, and see their corpses lying in the dirt?)
Shot in the Back? or Did The Boys Escape?

Escaping From a Concentration Camp Train

Struggling to Survive

Swarming Ants

KL Jackets

The Boys Recaptured by Local Militia


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