The Secret of Kells

Les Armateurs, Vivi Film, Cartoon Saloon, & France 2 Cinéma

Written & Directed by Tomm Moore/Co-directed by Nora Twomey, Script by Fabrice Ziolkowski/Art Directed by Ross Stewart/Music by Bruno Coulais

For his whole life, Brendan has been hidden away in his uncle’s walled abbey, forbidden to venture into the dangerous world outside. His uncle and only living relative, Abbot Cellach, has told him horror stories of Northmen invaders and wild animals that lurk outside the walls–which are essentially true. However, when a master illuminator, Brother Aidan, comes to the abbey for refuge from the Viking invaders, Brendan’s world begins to open. He sneaks into the forest outside the walls to get ink-making supplies and meets an incredible fey girl, Aisling, who becomes his friend and changes his world even more. As time goes by, Brendan must choose: exist in fear and supposed safety like his uncle . . . or let go and truly live, chase his dreams, and become a part of something greater than himself.

The Secret of Kells is one of the most ground-shaking movies I’ve seen in my life. It’s an incredible story of imagination, creativity, and wonder. The characters are great–I particularly love Aisling, whose fey non-humanness is so strong it’s nearly tangible. The music is also wonderful, carrying an old Celtic sort of feel. The voice-acting is well done also; I love the accents! However, the most obviously outstanding feature of this story is the animation. It’s made to somewhat mimic the old-style illumination such as was used in the original Book of Kells; a very apropos choice, since this is the story of that book’s creation. The style is unsettlingly different, using weird angles and perspectives, but it works. I found that it had truly grown on my by the end of the movie. The Secret of Kells is a movie that everyone needs to see at least once, although I personally intend to watch it again. Probably several times.

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