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Nocturna Artificialia1979

  • 3.8
A dreamer is seduced by the mystery of the city at night. He leaves his room and goes into the street, where a tram-car carries him away. “As with much of their later work, it’s impossible to provide a coherent synopsis of the earliest surviving film by the Quay Brothers, as NOCTURNA ARTIFICIALIA defies attempts at verbal encapsulation at every turn. The Quays themselves acknowledged this when they said, 'As for what is called the scenario, at most we have only a limited musical sense of its trajectory and we tend to be permanently open to vast uncertainties, mistakes, disorientations, as though lying in wait to trap the slightest fugitive encounter.' Shot on 16mm and funded by the British Film Institute's Production Board, NOCTURNA ARTIFICIALIA is a remarkably confident piece of work, the Quay's surmounting obvious technical and budgetary limitations to create a private universe entirely out of their own recurring obsessions. Their later films may be more assured, but their roots are clearly visible here.” –Michael Brooke

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Member Reviews (3)


Not my cup of tea. Fascinating visuals, but not much movement, and I'm not interested in empty churches viewed from a tram.

top reviewer

It is at night that the solitary being feels his loneliness the most. He must than create a world of his own through the banal objects around him. Than he can survive. A wondrous early work from the Quay Brothers that sets the base for all their future films.

It's the dream you had last night. Or thought you had. Or thought you wanted to have. Or told yourself not to have. Structures, strictures, trams and the penetrating eyes of saints. Who could ask for anything? Oh: a little organ music, perhaps. My first Quay experience. I'll be back.