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Another outstanding example of Czech New Wave cinema, DIAMONDS OF THE NIGHT was directed in 1964 by the 27-year-old Jan Nemec and based on the writings of Holocaust survivor Arnost Lustig. Running just over an hour, the film compresses four days in the lives of two Jewish boys (Ladislav
Jansky and Antonin Kumbera) who, while being transferred to a concentration camp, jump from the transport and escape into the woods. Physically and mentally exhausted, hungry, lost, and desperate, they scrounge for food and shelter and are later chased and caught by a group of old men, only to be
released. As their fatigue increases, the boys begin to hallucinate, imagining that the trees are falling down on them or that swarms of ants are crawling on their bodies. Perhaps even more impressive than the startling visual style--there is much hand-held camerawork, and a sense of realism or,
as Nemec would call it, "dream realism"--is the sound or the lack thereof. DIAMONDS OF THE NIGHT is practically without dialog, and there are long stretches in which nothing is heard but the ticking of a clock or the sound of breathing. Available on videotape with Nemec's first short, 1959's LOAF
OF BREAD, also based on an Arnost Lustig story.