A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Nocturna is a Spanish-French animated production (in English) that depicts a child's nightmare about loss and overcoming fears. Tim lives in what seems to be an orphanage. Every night in a large room full of bunk beds with other children, he opens the shutters to look at the stars he loves. One night he has a nightmare that his favorite star has disappeared, and it's up to him to save the world from total darkness. Tim's dream includes the disappearance of a protective parental figure, his acceptance of the loss, and his sense that the lost person will always be with him. A scary, nightmarish shadow is the villain, and frightening music accompanies him, which may prove too intense for young or sensitive kids. A cartoon female appears briefly in a red bra. Language includes "pee" and "punk."
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What's the story?
The night is an enterprise run by an administrator named Mocka, who drinks a lot of coffee and sends out hair-messers to clump up the hair of sleepers, a cat shepherd and his herd of cats to make sure children stay asleep, dream-tellers who narrate dreams, a fellow in charge of bed-wetting, a conductor to orchestrate the many creaking, scary noises of the night, and watery blobs who squeeze dew onto the grass. When young Tim can't sleep because he discovers his star and others in the sky above have disappeared, he stumbles into an adventure that leaves him no choice but to save the light from disappearing in the world. A frightening, villainous shadow that eats the light fights with heroic characters and is accompanied by scary music.
Is it any good?
The beauty of this animated adventure lies in its characterization of childhood. It's depicted as a time when bright and sensitive children find themselves able to recognize problems and perils that grown-ups can't see until it's too late. NOCTURNA is a lyrical depiction of a child's battle against adult assumptions, which are sometimes dangerously incorrect. Tim ignores the naysayers and sets out to save the disappearing stars, sometimes telling lies that help enlist grown-ups as assistants in his quest to, as it turns out, save the light in the world from destruction by evil forces. A lovely tale for kids who can handle the emotional intensity and mature themes.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about how the film portrays the kinds of things kids are often afraid of: the dark, abandonment, being ignored by grown-ups. What frightens you, and how do you handle your fear?
Which parts of the movie suggest that all the action might be a dream? Do you think cats really are in charge of keeping children asleep at night?
What other stories does this movie remind you of? Do you think the filmmakers might have been inspired by Alice in Wonderland? Do all the odd characters, including hair-messers and dream-tellers, signal that the events in the movie are happening in Tim's imagination?
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