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S E A R C H    D V D B e a v e r

(aka 'Diamonds of the Night')

Directed by Jan Nemec
Czechoslovakia 1964

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.

Excerpt from TV Guide located HERE

Theatrical Release: September 25th, 1964

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Comparison:

Second Run - Region 0 - PAL vs. Second Run - Region FREE - Blu-ray vs. Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray

1) Second Run - Region 0 - PAL - LEFT

2) Second Run - Region FREE - Blu-ray - MIDDLE

3) Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - RIGHT

Box Cover

Distribution Second Run DVD - Region 0 - PAL Second Run - Region FREE - Blu-ray Criterion Spine #969 - Region 'A' - Blu-ray
Runtime 1:03:44 (4% PAL Speedup) 1:07:29.458 1:07:53.486
Video 1.33:1 Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: 6.8 mb/s
PAL 720x576 25.00 f/s
1080P Single-layered Blu-ray

Disc Size: 24,289,894,647 bytes

Feature: 17,338,841,088 bytes

Codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

Total Video Bitrate: 28.63 Mbps

1080P Dual-layered Blu-ray

Disc Size: 45,458,466,085 bytes

Feature: 20,378,769,408 bytes

Codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

Total Video Bitrate: 35.92 Mbps

NOTE: The Vertical axis represents the bits transferred per second. The Horizontal is the time in minutes.

Bitrate:

Bitrate: Blu-ray

Bitrate: Blu-ray

Audio Czech (Dolby Digital 2.0) 

LPCM Audio Czech 2304 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 2304 kbps / 24-bit
Commentary:

LPCM Audio English 1536 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1536 kbps / 16-bit

LPCM Audio Czech 1152 kbps 1.0 / 48 kHz / 1152 kbps / 24-bit
Subtitles English, None English, None English, None
Features

Release Information:
Studio: Second Run DVD

Aspect Ratio:
Original Aspect Ratio 1.33:1

Edition Details:

• An Appreciation by Peter Hames (20:21)
• Stills Gallery
• 16-page booklet featuring a new essay by writer and film historian Michael Brooke.

DVD Release Date: May 10th, 2010

Transparent Keep Case
Chapters: 8

Release Information:
Studio:
Second Run

 

1080P Single-layered Blu-ray

Disc Size: 24,289,894,647 bytes

Feature: 17,338,841,088 bytes

Codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

Total Video Bitrate: 28.63 Mbps

 

Edition Details:
All-new audio commentary by film historian Michael Brooke
• Jan Nemec's debut short film A Loaf of Bread (Sousto, 1960 - 11:38)
• New filmed interview with Eva Lustigova, daughter of author Arno t Lustig (17:28)
• A filmed appreciation by Peter Hames (21:13)
• Booklet featuring Michael Brooke's substantial essay on the film.
• Trailer (2018 - 2:02)

 

Blu-ray Release Date: January 21st, 2019
Transparent
Blu-ray case

Chapters: 12

Release Information:
Studio:
Criterion

 

1080P Dual-layered Blu-ray

Disc Size: 45,458,466,085 bytes

Feature: 20,378,769,408 bytes

Codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

Total Video Bitrate: 35.92 Mbps

 

Edition Details:
Interview from 2009 with director Jan Nemec (26:10)
• A Loaf of Bread, Nemec’s 1960 student thesis film, based on a short story by Arnošt Lustig (11:41)
• Arnošt Lustig Through the Eyes of Jan Nemec, a short documentary from 1993 (15:02)
• New interview with film programmer Irena Kovarova (16:28)
• "Five Influences on 'Diamonds'"New video essay on the film’s stylistic influences by scholar James Quandt (21:41)
• PLUS: An essay by film critic Michael Atkinson
New cover by Sterling Hundley

 

Blu-ray Release Date: April 16th, 2019
Transparent
Blu-ray case

Chapters: 6

 

 

Comments:

NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were taken directly from the Blu-ray disc.

ADDITION: Criterion- Region 'A' - Blu-ray March 19':  Jan Nemec's "Diamonds of the Night" now comes to The Criterion Collection on a dual-layered Blu-ray. This is billed as a new 4K digital restoration, though it is most likely from the same 4K restoration as the Second Run disc. The 1.37:1 HD image is given a maxed out bitrate. When compared to the Second Run, Criterion's presentation seems to be almost identical, at a glance. Upon further inspection one can see that Criterion's image is slightly lighter, showing a tiny bit more detail in darker areas of the frame. There is also a finer and more prevalent grain throughout the film's brief running time. Contrast levels are on par with the previous release from Second Run, showing a fair amount of range to the black and white image.

The Czech 24-bit linear PCM audio track sounds the same as the one that appeared on the Second Run.
The subtle score is credited to Vlastimil Hála and Jan Rychlík. It is supportive of the film's frequently stark look, evocative editing and almost non-existent dialogue. There are optional English subtitles on this region 'A'-locked Blu-ray.

The extras here are somewhat different, with Criterion lacking the commentary from Michael Brooke. "Jan Nemec" is an impressively produced 26-minute piece with the director being interviewed amidst footage from his work. This interview is a segment from 2009, with the director speaking about attending FAMU film school in Prague, and making "Diamonds of the Night". Even more fascinating is the 22-minute extra, "Five Influences on 'Diamonds'". In this video essay, film scholar James Quandt narrates over compiled footage, and examines the style of the film and its influences. "Irena Kovarova" is another newly produced extra featuring said film programmer and Czechoslovak film expert. Kovarova spends 17-minutes discussing the importance of "Diamonds..." within the Czechoslovak New Wave movement. "Arnošt Lustig Through the Eyes of Jan Nemec" is a 15-minute documentary from 1993, with director Nemec paying tribute to author Arnost Lustig, whose work he adapted for "Diamonds of the Night" and "A Loaf of Bread". Speaking of "... Bread", the director's graduation film is included here, as it was on the Second Run
Blu-ray. An essay by film critic Michael Atkinson is also included.

Criterion's
Blu-ray of "Diamonds of the Night" should be a welcome addition to any cinephile's collection. Though it is lacking the wonderful Michael Brooke commentary that appeared on the Second Run Blu-ray, it features some wonderful new extras. The picture quality is also phenomenal, which is what we have come to expect from Criterion.

Colin Zavitz

***

ADDITION: Second Run- Region FREE - Blu-ray January 19': The Second Run is advertised as "presented from a new 4K restoration from original materials by the Czech National Film Archive" and it premiered at the 2018 Cannes Film Festival. The video is a significant improvement from their own DVD of almost 9-years ago. The higher resolution and 4K restoration have improved every facet of the SD presentation from tighter visuals to more grain, from better layered contrast to more information in the frame (notable on the right edge.) The vastly improved image exemplifies the blown-out brightness and artefacts of the older DVD.    

Second Run utilize a 24-bit linear PCM 2.0 channel mono track in the original Czech language. There are almost no aggressive effects in Diamonds of the Night with the opening's panting and running through the forest sounding crisp and realistic.  There are optional English subtitles and the Blu-ray disc is region FREE.

We get an excellent new audio commentary by film historian Michael Brooke and he gives some overwhelmingly deep analysis mentioning Bresson, Bunuel, Tarkovsky and his comments substantially enhanced by feelings toward the film. Great work, Michael. Probably the best commentary I've heard of the early year. Second Run add the 11.5 minute A Loaf of Bread (Sousto), Jan Nemec's debut short film from 1960. It centers on 3 prisoners at the end of 2nd World War who wish to escape from the train and obtain food. I enjoyed the new 17.5-minute interview with Eva Lustigova, daughter of author Arnost Lustig whose story "Darkness has no Shadows" the film is based. She is bright and obviously proud of her father's accomplishments. Repeated is the 21-minute 'appreciation' by Peter Hames found on the DVD and there is a booklet featuring Michael Brooke's substantial essay on the film. Lastly is a new trailer.

Diamonds of the Night is a masterpiece. The 4K restoration is a must-own for any world-cinema fans. The extensively improved Blu-ray a/v and Brooke commentary make this one of my favourite releases of the year - and it gets our strongest endorsement.

***

ON THE DVD: Almost totally devoid of dialogue, Diamonds of the Night details the WWII survivalist attempt of two lads, in their teens, as they try to desperately escape a train bound for a Nazi concentration camp. It's tense and riveting throughout its hour running time. Shot sparingly in black and white the film was the debut of, revered Czech director, Jan Nemec.

The DVD is region free, progressive, in the original 1.33:1 aspect ratio and rendered in the PAL standard. It is not without visual issues with unexpected blown-out brightness and excessive cue blips in the final reels. Still this can most likely be blamed on the available source not the transfer. I wasn't deterred by any perceived flaws in my presentation and suspect they actually enhanced my viewing - lending a pragmatic vérité edge.

The flat 2.0 channel audio is fairly consistent but not a big part of the presentation as dialogue is kept sparse. There are, complete, optional English subtitles. Supplements include a 20-minute 'Appreciation' by author and film programmer Peter Hames, a, Stills Gallery and an enjoyable 16-page booklet featuring a revealing essay by writer and film historian Michael Brooke. Great stuff!

This is astounding to actually own and watch in your home theater. Second Run have done another stupendous job exposing a true masterpiece worthy of shelf-space in any DVD library. While I enjoyed Nemec's The Party and the Guests - Diamonds of the Night absolutely blew me away. This has our highest recommendation!  

Gary W. Tooze

 


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1) Second Run - Region 0 - PAL - TOP

2) Second Run - Region FREE - Blu-ray - MIDDLE

3) Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 


 

1) Second Run - Region 0 - PAL - TOP

2) Second Run - Region FREE - Blu-ray - MIDDLE

3) Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 


 

1) Second Run - Region 0 - PAL - TOP

2) Second Run - Region FREE - Blu-ray - MIDDLE

3) Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 


 

1) Second Run - Region 0 - PAL - TOP

2) Second Run - Region FREE - Blu-ray - MIDDLE

3) Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 


 

1) Second Run - Region 0 - PAL - TOP

2) Second Run - Region FREE - Blu-ray - MIDDLE

3) Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 


1) Second Run - Region 0 - PAL - TOP

2) Second Run - Region FREE - Blu-ray - MIDDLE

3) Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 


1) Second Run - Region 0 - PAL - TOP

2) Second Run - Region FREE - Blu-ray - MIDDLE

3) Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 


 

1) Second Run - Region 0 - PAL - TOP

2) Second Run - Region FREE - Blu-ray - MIDDLE

3) Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

 More Blu-ray Captures

1) Second Run - Region FREE - Blu-ray - TOP

2) Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

1) Second Run - Region FREE - Blu-ray - TOP

2) Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

1) Second Run - Region FREE - Blu-ray - TOP

2) Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

1) Second Run - Region FREE - Blu-ray - TOP

2) Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

1) Second Run - Region FREE - Blu-ray - TOP

2) Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

1) Second Run - Region FREE - Blu-ray - TOP

2) Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

1) Second Run - Region FREE - Blu-ray - TOP

2) Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

1) Second Run - Region FREE - Blu-ray - TOP

2) Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

1) Second Run - Region FREE - Blu-ray - TOP

2) Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM


Box Cover

Distribution Second Run DVD - Region 0 - PAL Second Run - Region FREE - Blu-ray Criterion Spine #969 - Region 'A' - Blu-ray




 

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