Jan Němec

Diamonds of the Night

Diamonds of the Night

With this simultaneously harrowing and lyrical debut feature, Jan Němec established himself as the most uncompromising visionary among the radical filmmakers who made up the Czechoslovak New Wave. Adapted from a novel by Arnošt Lustig, Diamonds of the Night closely tracks two boys who escape from a concentration-camp transport and flee into the surrounding woods, hostile terrain where the brute realities of survival coexist with dreams, memories, and fragments of visual poetry. Along with visceral camera work by Jaroslav Kučera and Miroslav Ondříček—two of Czechoslovak cinema’s most influential cinematographers—Němec makes inventive use of fractured editing, elliptical storytelling, and flights of surrealism as he strips context away from this bare-bones tale, evoking the panicked delirium of consciousness lost in night and fog.

Film Info

  • Jan Němec
  • Czechoslovakia
  • 1964
  • 67 minutes
  • Black & White
  • 1.37:1
  • Czech, German
  • Spine #969

Special Features

  • New 4K digital restoration, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray
  • Interview from 2009 with director Jan Němec
  • A Loaf of Bread, Němec’s 1960 student thesis film, based on a short story by Arnošt Lustig
  • Arnošt Lustig Through the Eyes of Jan Němec, a short documentary from 1993
  • New interview with film programmer Irena Kovarova
  • New video essay on the film’s stylistic influences by scholar James Quandt
  • New English subtitle translation
  • PLUS: An essay by film critic Michael Atkinson

New cover by Sterling Hundley

Purchase Options

Special Features

  • New 4K digital restoration, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray
  • Interview from 2009 with director Jan Němec
  • A Loaf of Bread, Němec’s 1960 student thesis film, based on a short story by Arnošt Lustig
  • Arnošt Lustig Through the Eyes of Jan Němec, a short documentary from 1993
  • New interview with film programmer Irena Kovarova
  • New video essay on the film’s stylistic influences by scholar James Quandt
  • New English subtitle translation
  • PLUS: An essay by film critic Michael Atkinson

New cover by Sterling Hundley

Diamonds of the Night
Cast
Ladislav Janský
First boy
Antonín Kumbera
Second boy
Credits
Director
Jan Němec
Screenplay by
Jan Němec
Screenplay by
Arnošt Lustig
Based on the novel “Darkness Casts No Shadow” by
Arnošt Lustig
Cinematographer
Jaroslav Kučera
Cinematographer
Miroslav Ondříček
Editor
Miloslav Hájek
Sound
František Černý
Set design
Oldřich Bosák
Costume design
Ester Krumbachová

From The Current

A Hidden Figure of the Czechoslovak New Wave Takes the Spotlight
A Hidden Figure of the Czechoslovak New Wave Takes the Spotlight

In this excerpt from an interview on the edition of Diamonds of the Night, film programmer Irena Kovarova talks about the work of one of director Jan Němec’s key collaborators, Ester Krumbachová.

Diamonds of the Night: Into the Woods
Diamonds of the Night: Into the Woods

Injecting the Czechoslovak New Wave with postmodern rage and formal risk, Jan Němec’s debut feature is a merciless look at human consciousness under siege.

By Michael Atkinson

Harnessing the Entropy of Diamonds of the Night in One Static Image
Harnessing the Entropy of Diamonds of the Night in One Static Image

The artist Sterling Hundley details his multilayered approach to evoking the slipperiness of time and memory for the cover art of Jan Němec’s war film.

By Sterling Hundley