Nachtstück (Creepy Woodland Being Oppression)

 

WTFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFF. I caught a few shots of this animated short and knew it was going to freak me the hell out even before I watched it. The drab colors, the indeterminate bestiary of forest creatures that seem to tick off several different the phobias on the triggering checklist, the darkness, the loathing and oppression. It was certain to please and provide our autocrat base with more depth on which your brain may chew. Nocturne (or Nachtstück in German) is both a wonder to consume and a ennui to think upon, even though whether or not you create meaning from it matters not because simply watching the story that unfolds is enough.

 
 

Directed by ich bin ein Berliner übermädchen Anne Breymann and with incredible sound by Michał Krajczok, Nocturne is a dark forest story that Breymann simply outlines as follows: "At night the forest creatures gather to gamble, putting their innermost at stake." Face value that sounds like some Silly Symphonies Disney diarrhea flushed into the Hollywood sewers, but in reality vagueness is one of its strengths. No huggable dolls for sale here people, sorry.

 
 

In Nocturne a group of grotesque creatures, whose bodies are built from different objects and animals but yet are nothing entirely distinct, gather in a bleak forest to observe a game that involves slamming down rocks like dice to see who can make the tallest tower. The prize? The essences of the challengers themselves, which are represented as salt-like objects entwined with twitching, thin, white strands like premature roots. The competition is between an egg-headed (literally) bird being and another bird-like creature that sprouts deer antlers that could pass as a black metal logo you wear as a badge because only you can read it. Other creatures, including one that removes its mask to reveal a faceless void-like nest with indeterminate parasites moving within it, watch the game and become increasingly agitated as the antler beast continues to win with ease. When the egg-head has given up what remains of itself, it removes its competitor's mask to find a face just like its own, and the antler beast places its hands on the loser's face as Nocturne fades to black.

 
 

Nocturne can be read superficially for its timeless theme of competition. The two primary creatures wager pieces of themselves in the challenge, one taking it from its head (see above), the other from its chest from small drawers. Perhaps a symbol of heart versus mind, the egg-head is continuously weak at the game and its wagers get more pathetic as its competitor continues to dominate and antler posture. Simply observing it is a treasure, but thinking upon it it can be read in several ways. Breymann and her team have managed to capture a primary curse of human existence. The title Nocturne can be read as the musical tradition, of course, but its also a composition of the dark path of self-sacrifice and loss we all inevitably succumb to, losing our own face in the end. So what I'm saying is if you like deep thoughts you should probably watch this.

 

Anne Breymann Official Vimeo

Written by Stanley, Devourer of Souls

Nocture (2019)
Anne Breymann (director), Various Team members (production)
4.6 / 5