The cover for the newly released Nocturna simply does not do the film justice. What at first seems to be an unassuming foreign animated film, is actually a very charming story about a boy overcoming his fears.
The Film ✮✮✮
Tim is an orphaned boy who cannot sleep at night, due to his fear of the dark, and everything that goes bump in the night. Every night while the other children in the orphanage are attempting to sleep, Tim sneaks out onto the rooftop to get comfort the only way he knows how: by charting the stars on the sky onto the rooftop itself. One night, as he’s going over his charting, looking for the star he has claimed as his own, he notices that the stars he took so much care in identifying on his maps are disappearing. In his desperation and refusal to go to bed he meets the Cat Shepherd, a large round being with tiny hands and feet who is in charge of not just all the cats in the city, but of making sure all children in the city go to sleep for the night.
Because Tim refuses to go to bed, the Cat Shepherd agrees to take him to see Moka, the being whom oversees all nightly duties. Tim soon finds out that all events that occur overnight, the tangling of hair, the rustling of the trees, the strange bumps and creaks we often blame on old pipes, are actually orchestrated by the creatures of Nocturna. Every being has their job, and every job has its purpose. Murray and his gang are in charge of the street lamps, while the caretaker in the Lighthouse of the Stars is supposed to make sure that all of the stars are lit for the night. With this information, Tim and the Cat Shepherd go in search of answers.
Nocturna is surprisingly charming and well crafted. Even before the opening credits begin, you are immersed in Tim’s character. The opening montage does a wonderful job of showing you – not telling you – who Tim is, as well as setting a wonderful tone and pace for the whole film. Warm glowing colors envelop you in stunning imagery of the orphanage, and then later Nocturna itself.
Everything from the character design, to the musical score, lends to a familiar feeling of an old story being re-told…only you don’t know the story. The whole time you grasp for where the story is headed, trying to figure out what’s going to happen next because it is that enchanting. At some point you may realize the answer, but that will not detract from the enjoyment you will receive from watching the story unfold on the screen.
Bonus Features ✮✮
Unfortunately, the bonus features for this particular release are quite underwhelming at best.
- The Making of Nocturna: A short selection of interviews with co-directors Adrià García and Víctor Maldonado, along with several of the team of animators. Though the people interviewed say some wonderful things about the film, there isn’t much new information or anything that really indicates “making of”. Instead, what they have here are some great sound bites about the general idea of how the film came together.
- The Art of Nocturna: This extra is basically a video version of what their “Art of” book would look like, which would mostly consist of final character sketches, and color layouts.
- English Subtitles: Surprisingly, the film only comes in English, and you can add subtitles also in English if you have a hard time with the British accents.
Do not judge this film by its lack of bonus features, or cover art for that matter. This film, though simple and familiar in story structure, is still a feast for the eyes and proves to have compelling characters supported by fantastic art and music. A must have for those looking to add some variety to their collection.
Nocturna is now available on Blu-ray!
Edited by: Morgan Stradling