Close Up

4 - 21 May 2019: Take Two: Diamonds of the Night / Josef Kilian


Josef Kilián
Pavel Jurácek & Jan Schmidt, 1965, 37 min
Czech with English subtitles

The surreal Josef Kilián is a dark and absurdly humorous, biting allegory of life under a totalitarian regime. Inspired by the grotesque nightmares of Franz Kafka and another icon of Czech literature, the anti-militarist, anti-authoritarian Jaroslav Hasek, the film was suppressed by the authorities after the Soviet invasion of 1968. Having made only four films, and despite being the author of the screenplays for Jindřich Polák's Ikarie XB 1, Věra Chytilová's Daisies and Karel Zeman's A Jester’s Tale, Juráček remains one of the Czechoslovak New Wave’s most neglected artists.

Diamonds of the Night
Jan Němec, 1964, 64 min
Czech with English subtitles

"A driving forward motion propels Němec’s debut feature, an almost wordless film that jumps between silence and bursts of gunfire, close-ups and long shots, the present and a time that may be past or future, real or dreamed. As in [his earlier short,] A Loaf of Bread, two young men flee a train taking them to a prison camp. They search for food in the countryside while trying to remain unseen, resorting to violence in their desperation. Caught by a militia made up of doddering old men, they face a firing squad, where perhaps freedom and youth are the actual targets. Diamonds in the Night is a startling, accomplished debut, unconcerned with exposition, favoring raw depictions over plot, with glimpses of city life and surreal vignettes that imitate and equal early Buñuel and Vigo." – Harvard Film Archive

Part of our season on the Czechoslovak New Wave