Diamonds of the Night 1964
Two teenage boys (Ladislav Jansky and Antonin Kumbera) manage to escape from a train which is transporting prisoners between concentration camps. They flee for their lives with only the clothes on their backs and their official prison coats to keep them warm. They must evade their pursuers across harsh terrain whilst battling the elements and trying to find food, drink and shelter in a war-ravaged hinterland.

Diamonds of the Night is a thrilling tale of survival, dehumanisation and coming-of-age in Nazi-occupied Europe. Nemec’s uses almost no dialogue, allowing the confusion, chaos and desperation of the two young men to tell its own story. Using a mix of flashbacks, hallucinations and flights of fancy, Diamonds of the Night builds up a history around these escapees. It’s a tense, disturbing and exhilarating film which illustrates the horror as if we’re witnessing it with our own eyes.

Director: Jan Nemec
Cast: Ladislav Jansky, Antonin Kumbera, Ilse Bischofova
Country: Czechoslovakia
Genre: Drama, War


The debut feature of Jan Nemec, Diamonds of the Night was one of the early films of the Czech New Wave and was based on a story by Arnost Lustig, a renowned Jewish Czech author who wrote many novels, short stories, plays and screenplays about the Holocaust. A teenager during the war, he was put in 3 different concentration camps until escaping on the way to Dachau when his train was bombed by American planes whose pilots mistook it for a military transport. These experiences shaped Lustig’s work for most of his life.

BD50, DVD9 | 1080p AVC, NTSC 4:3 | 01:07:53 | 42.3 Gb, 7.35 Gb + 3% rec
Language: Czech(Ceske)
Subtitles: English

Extras:

A Loaf of Bread - presented here is Jan Nemec's 1960 student thesis film, based on a short story by Arnost Lustig. In Czech, with optional English subtitles. (12 min, 1080p).

The "Golden Sixties Series" - Jan Nemec - presented here is a segment from an archival interview with Jan Nemec in which the director explains how he fell in love with cinema, and discusses his time at FAMU film school in Prague and the conception of Diamonds of the Night. The interview was conducted in 2009. In Czech, with optional English subtitles. (27 min, 1080i).

Irena Kovarova - in this brand new video interview, film programmer and Czechoslovak film expert Irena Kovarova discusses the emergence of the Czechoslovak New Wave, some of the key films that were part of it and the main themes they promotes, as well as the significance of Diamonds of the Night. The interview was conducted exclusively for Criterion in New York in 2018. In English, not subtitled. (17 min, 1080p).

Five Influences on "Diamonds" - in this new video essay, film scholar James Quandt mentions some the directors that impacted Jan Nemec and his work and deconstructs the style of Diamonds of the Night. The essay was created exclusively for Criterion in 2018. In English, not subtitled. (22 min, 1080p).

Arnost Lustig Through the Eyes of Jan Nemec - presented here is a short film from 1993 in which Kan Nemec pays tribute to author Arnost Lustig, whose work he adapted for A Loaf of Bread and Diamonds of the Night. In Czech, with optional English subtitles. (16 min, 1080i).

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