Directors: Adrià García and Víctor Maldonado
Writers: Adrià García, Víctor Maldonado, and Teresa Vilardell
Tim, a young orphan boy, spends his nights looking up at his favorite star Adara, who protects him from the dark. But then one night Adara disappears and slowly the other stars begin to go out as well. Venturing into the dark, Tim meets the Cat Shepherd, who introduces him to Nocturna, the magical world of the night filled with dream writers, hairdressers who specialize in bedheads, and more. The Cat Shepherd believes that Moka, the head of Nocturna, will set things right, but when Moka refuses to listen, Tim knows that it’s up to him to alert the Star Keeper and save Adara before she goes out for good.
Nocturna introduces viewers to an enchanting world full of strange-looking creatures responsible for everything in the night. Hair dressers create elaborate bedheads, musicians rub sticks against the windows and roll things down the gutters, and dream writers script those horrible scenarios that have you going to school in your underwear. The protagonist may be afraid of the dark, but Nocturna works hard to convince its audience that the night is truly magical.
At some times, the world of Nocturna does come across as a little forced. After all, if real trees exist to rub against the windows, it seems strange that composers should have to instruct their musicians to rub branches against them, too. Such elaborate attention to every little detail in the night almost threatens to take away its magic, rather than increase it. The wind and the rain and trees are wonderful and awesome in and of themselves. No need to add a funny-looking creature to them to make them more wonderful.
Questions arise, too, about Nocturna’s existence. Lighting the sky with stars seems a noble goal, as does keeping the street lights lit and the dreams coming. But why do the inhabitants of Nocturna, most of them apparently kind, want to steal socks, tangle covers, create bedheads, and cause children to wet the bed at night? This is one of those fantasy worlds that audiences will just have to accept as is, reflecting that magic sometimes goes beyond understanding.
Though the premise of Nocturna perplexed me a little, I found the characters largely enchanting. Tim, an orphan boy afraid of the dark and who thus loves the stars, captured my heart from the beginning. He is persistent, brave, and confident with that charming confidence of youth–the kind that assumes everyone wants to do the right thing rather than the easy one. His personality makes his new friend the Cat Shepherd a nice foil, since the Shepherd, though kind, cares first and foremost about his job–which happens to be sending Tim to sleep, not helping him to save the stars. Of course, the two go on a journey together and meet a host of wonderful and strange characters, from the gutsy and loyal street lights to the North Star herself.
Overall, Nocturna is a lovely vision of the magic that haunts the night, skipping from character to character in a joyous celebration of the imagination while inviting viewers to revel along with them in that joy. It is a touching story sure to resonate especially with younger viewers who long to believe that the dark is not something to fear but love for its own special beauty.