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DIAMONDS OF THE NIGHT

Czechoslovakia, 1964 (MIFF 1966, Programme B)

Director: Jan Nemec

Towards the close of the war, two boys escape from a Nazi transport and plunge desperately through a forest. Gradually as their minds start to wander, memories, hallucinations and desires rise and die away like the tolling of the bell behind the credits.

In Nemec's first film we are in Resnais territory with flashbacks injected so that past, present and future are inextricably mixed. The whole structure of the film becomes a kind of stream-of-consciousness incorporating the obsessions of the youths, but the images do gradually assume a logic of their own.

The subjective treatment of the film compels one to share the boys' nightmare; Kucera's hand-held camera clings obsessively to the fugitives, registering their slightest change of expression. The film manages to convey a desolating sense of suffering, but also presents insights into the nature of man's inhumanity as well as his spiritual resilience.

Grand Prix, Mannheim Festival.

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