Diamonds of the Night (Czech: Démanty noci) is a Czech 1964 film about two boys on the run from a train taking them to a concentration camp. It was director Jan Nemec’s first full-length feature film.
Diamonds of the Night begins with two young men fleeing from a train taking them to a concentration camp. The film employs little dialog and the boys escape through rugged and unfamiliar terrain is interpolated with dreams, memories, hallucinations, fantasies, and flashbacks. They encounter a woman on a farm and one boy struggles with thoughts of murder and rape before silently taking a loaf of bread from the woman’s kitchen and leaving. Eventually, the boys are caught by members of a local shooting party. The men prepare to execute the boys, but simply laugh as they walk away instead of executing them. The ending is ambiguous: The men either actually spared the boys, or they could be walking into the afterlife.
Director: Jan Nemec
Producers: Jan Procházka, Erich Svabík
Written by Arnost Lustig, Jan Nemec
Music: Vlastimil Hála, Jan Rychlík
Cinematographer: Jaromír Šofr
Editor: Oldrich Bosák
Release date: 25 September 1964
Running time: 63 minutes
Ladislav Jánsky as the First Boy
Antonín Kumbera as the Second Boy
Irma Bischofova as the Woman
I came across an old post (written four-plus years ago, so only old in a relative sense) in which I had constructed a musical playlist to mirror a trip through the South. I couldn’t even recall writing it. Perhaps that’s why I used the word ‘old.’
It followed an imagined road trip out of the Carolinas into Georgia, Alabama, Tennessee, Mississippi, and then westward through Louisiana. Everyone has their own idea about where the borders of their true South lie. My South extends along a horizon from Louisiana eastward to South Carolina, stepping north into Tennessee and the corner of Arkansas. Florida, however, is not part of My South; it exists in its own cultural universe – a friendly neighbor, but not part of the “collective” (maybe for its own good).
That original playlist – called “Do The South” – has here received a few 2014 revisions, but remains largely as it was. There are songs by Southerners and by non-Southerners; songs describing specific places and events; songs that communicate a mood evoked by the region; songs about Southern people, food, attitudes, music (of course), history and stereotypes. There is no reference to Forrest Gump…well, maybe one (can you find it?). And all the songs follow a route you could take behind the wheel of your trusty rusty Ford pick-em-up truck.
I’ve separated the playlist into three parts. Consider the breaks between sections as overnight stops at a vintage Southern motel. Enjoy yourself and have a safe trip!
Palace of Living Art
MOVIELAND WAX MUSEUM
Buena Park, California
AMERICAN GOTHIC – Painted by Grant Wood, American, 1892-1942. Reproduced here is a typical midwest farm couple. Note that the man stands in front of the barn, the woman in front of the kitchen, each in his own domain, with the man standing slightly ahead of, and dominating the woman, perhaps indicative of their personal relationship! Grant Wood’s sister posed for the painting. She recently visited The Palace of Living Art and posed beside her likeness in the set.
Mike Roberts, Berkeley 94710 / The Continental Card.
A rare visit today to the Birmingham Barnes & Noble (by virtue of being near my doctor’s office) was cut short due to the introduction of St. Paul and the Broken Bones on their sound system. I couldn’t get out of there quickly enough. I swear, that belly-flopper of a lead vocalist wants to be Sharon Jones so very badly, but only succeeds in sounding as if a boa constrictor is tightening its grip around his throat, while stealing the spotlight away from the very talented musicians in the band. This was all preceded by a toupeed wise-acre approaching the woman working in the music department while the new-ish Leon Russell CD was playing. “Who is that singing?” he asked her. She had no idea, and said so. “Sounds like Charlie Rangel!” he spouted, followed by a “Ha ha ha!” at his own joke. “Ha ha ha, Charlie Rangel, ha ha ha!” He was getting louder. “Ha! Mr. President, this is Charlie Rangel calling! I’m in a New York state of mind!” he quipped, mimicking the New York congressman’s well-known rasp while quoting the song playing overhead. “You know who Charlie Rangel is, don’t you? Ha ha ha,” he asked her. “Er, no, but would you like me to find out who IS singing this song?” “No, no, ha ha, I wouldn’t buy it anyway,” he said, and turned and walked away. A textbook example of the worst kind of retail shopper: eat up the staff’s time and energy and don’t buy a damn thing – or worse, go home and buy it on the internet. At that moment, the St. Paul singer began screeching. I grabbed my Roz Chast book and dashed to the checkout for a quick getaway. Then, in the truck, and perhaps ironically, there were Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings singing that “People Don’t Get What They Deserve,” as I headed out of the lot and northward on Highway 280.
I walk into work Monday and before I can even log in to the store system, three people have stopped me to ask what I think of the New Refrigerator in my department. New Refrigerator? I ask. IT HAS A STEREO BUILT IN! they each swoon, wide-eyed, slack-jawed. Indeed, our Whirlpool representative is on site, and has wheeled a stainless steel tank of a French-door fridge onto the floor. And it is singing just like Jack Johnson. Actually, that is an mp3 of a Jack Johnson song, streaming via bluetooth technology from one of my salespersons’ phones. All day, with the Jack Johnson demos. All day. I try it once, play a song by Adele for about 30 seconds. Nobody responds (because everyone has heard Adele ad nauseum in our workplace muzak broadcasts). So. Okay. Yes, it’s cool, but, basically, just a non-integrated Harmon Kardon bluetooth music streamer that sits atop the unit. And, like a shiny new Christmas present that gets lost among the balls of wrapping paper, it eventually becomes forgotten and unnoticed. But, later that night, as the place begins shutting down and I have 30 minutes or so to do paperwork and walk the department, I connect the cloud player app from my handheld to the fridge stereo. For a few minutes I am existing in a flashback to Laser’s Edge Compact Discs days, straightening up the store at the end of the day with Josh Rouse, Hem, Bobby Womack and Laura Veirs playing and singing to me at a bit more than average volume. Loud enough to demonstrate that that thin Harmon Kardon device has one hell of a bass response. And then the corporate-controlled lights go out, the electric strips hanging from the ceiling power down, and the music – for that night – is silenced.