22 May 2015 | alixj248
Unique, Intricate, Beautiful and Historical Animation
I had the pleasure of watching this in an Art House cinema in Aberdeen for my 16th birthday 2 months ago, being re-released as a celebration of Song of the Sea Tom Moore's new film (another STUNNING Gem by the way!) and I instantly fell in love with Moore's style and artistry. The film tells a true story about a book from an isle in Ireland with the most beautiful pictures and words written upon it's pages, describing it as "to look upon heaven itself". The book is brought to Kells, a medieval outpost which is constructing a great wall around it's monasteries and abbey to protect it from the Northern Invaders, (presumed to be the Vikings of Scandinavia who also pillaged Scotland.) The area is known to be full of monks and holy symbols, lead by Cellach, who anxiously awaits the attack. His young nephew Brendan, who usually spends his days with his "brothers" the other monks is swept up in the story of the book brought by it's author Brother Aiden, a monk from the Isle of Iona. Aiden and Brendan become close acquaintances and he entrusts his new apprentice to go into the forest with his white cat Pangur Bhan (from the old Irish poem) to collect green berries called gall nuts that produce the most beautiful emerald ink. Brendan is cornered by wolves in the process but is saved by a mysterious green eyed white spirit wolf who turns into her true form of a young girl about his age named Aisling. Aisling herself is in fact hundreds of years old and is a faerie of the forest which she is proud to call her own. She helps Brendan to collect the berries and although she isn't trusting of humans she forms a friendship with him and says he is welcome in her forest. Brendan must then look for the Eye of Crom, guarded by a dark ancient spirit Crom Crauch whom Aisling is deathly terrified of. The crystal eye will allow Brendan to concentrate when illustrating the Book. However, with Abbot Cellach under stress and the Vikings drawing ever nearer to the monastery, Brendan appears to have other things to worry about. This film is gorgeously animated, I felt like I was watching a painting all the way through. The Irish accents aren't difficult to understand at all and the Celtic rhythm of the music makes you feel as though you are there sitting in a bright green forest with Brendan and Aisling perched on a branch laughing along. The story flows very well, however the one problem I have with the film is you may need to be familiar with Celtic mythology. As a Scottish person I could understand most of it, but I think others had trouble keeping up. It was very well executed though so you kind of have it explained without to much exposition. The characters are all very 3 dimensional. The monks of the monastery are all very well designed with unique head shapes and voices and Brother Aiden is like a typical quirky grandfather figure. Brendan himself who is around 11 years of age is a very well written child character. He's intelligent but also clumsy and makes bad decisions and mistakes. His heart is kind and he looks to the good side most of the time. We see his spontaneous nature in the first scene as he attempts to catch an escaped goose, even going as far as to climb up the scaffolding. Aisling, the forest spirit is adorable. She's sweet but is also no nonsense and will not put up with a human stumbling across the forest which she guards as her home. She sees all animals as friends and my favourite scene is when she uses Pangur to help get the key to the cell Brendan is locked by Cellach his uncle, to prevent him from entering the forest again. She sings a Gaelic song to turn Pangur into a feline spirit and back again, allowing him to slip into Abbot Cellach's bed chamber without being seen or heard. Christian Mooney the voice actress for Aisling has a lovely voice. All the voice actors do a terrific job, especially the harsh tone of Abbot Cellach played by Brendan Gleeson. The Secret of Kells is a historical fantasy that can only be compared to the great works of Miyazaki. Watching it I drew parallels to Princess Mononoke, (wolves, girl of the woods, man and nature, the battle scenes) it's a very pretty film. It is quite dark in some places, the battle scene of the Viking invasion is frightening and a little graphic. I remember a mother who took her children out once or twice after seeing bodies fall off the scaffolding. It's a PG film but not for young kids. I would say for maybe 10 and up. Overall, this movie was amazing and I look forward to more of Moore.