Diamonds of the Night  

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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

Diamonds of the Night (Template:Lang-cs) is a 1964 Czech film about two boys on the run from a train taking them to a concentration camp, based loosely on Arnošt Lustig's autobiographical novel Darkness Has No Shadow. It was director Jan Němec's first full-length feature film.


Diamonds of the Night begins with two young men fleeing from a train and shedding, as they run, long black coats, on which are painted in white the letters "KL," the abbreviation for Konzentrationslager (concentration camp). The film employs little dialogue, and the boys' escape through forests and swamps, and across rocky terrain, is interpolated with the dreams, memories, hallucinations, fantasies, and flashbacks of the younger of the two boys. In one sequence, the younger boy recalls exchanging his shoes with the older boy for a piece of food; in another, he seems to imagine returning to the apartment in Prague where he used to live; and in a third, he rides a Prague tram with shot-out windows while wearing once again the coat that identifies him as a concentration camp escapee. When the boys encounter a farmer's wife, the younger boy follows her into her kitchen to ask for food, and as he struggles with thoughts of murder and rape, the film repeatedly shows both possibilities. In the end the boy silently takes a few slices of bread from her and leaves. Eventually, the boys are caught by a shooting party of elderly German-speaking men, who detain the boys in a beer hall while they drink, eat, sing, and dance, before turning the boys over to the town's mayor. As the boys are marched out of the beer hall, the leader of the shooting party calls out, "Ready, aim, fire," but the men merely laugh instead of shooting. The ending is ambiguous: Either the boys have been spared, or they are walking into the afterlife.


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