Alois Nebel seems to flow effortlessly across the screen. Visually, this film is an absolute delight, its rotoscope animation allowing director Tomáš Lunák to concentrate on the essential in every shot, while the choice of black and white perfectly matches the tone of the story. Atmospheric and drenched in mood, Alois Nebel is destined to become a classic of the form.
Evoking some of the most renowned Czech films of the sixties — Closely Watched Trains in particular — Lunák weaves a spell around his tale of Alois, a middle-aged dispatcher who works at a small railway station in the Sudeten, the mountainous region along the Czech borders with Germany and Poland. It is 1989, and the radio is full of news of border crossings in Berlin as the wall starts to come down. Alois, shuffling around the station, his face grim, looks as if he has seen it all — little excites him. He is used to solitude and getting on with life. But as fog and rain swirl around the station, he finds himself haunted by the past, especially the events at the end of the Second World War. Tortured by these memories, he ends up in a sanatorium. When he is released, he finds that the world has changed: the communist regime has evaporated, and so has his job. But hope arrives in the miraculous form of a woman.
Alois Nebel evokes fairy tales — the dark forest; the lonely rural outpost; storms, rain and floods — but is utterly modern in every other way. The film looks back to troubled and still resonant moments in history, yet as Alois goes about his daily life, another more insidious reality surrounds him. Though Alois Nebel, the character, is stoic and often passive on the exterior, there is nevertheless a wealth of feeling bubbling away beneath the surface of this wondrous gem of a film. –TIFF
A subtle, yet pretty, depression-tinged story about a lonely man working at a Soviet outpost. The animation is beautiful and unlike any other film I've seen before. It's a wonderful mixture of gorgeous melancholy and harrowing bleakness. Although the story was a little thin at times, and I felt as though it concluded too abruptly, it was a very surprising little film.
A stunning Czech adaptation in this black and white animated feature of the classic “deep dark secrets can’t be kept secret forever” film noir story line. Mild mannered, somewhat dour Alois… read review