Tuesday, 1 May 2012

World Animation Review (Ireland) - The Secret of Kells

The Secret of Kells - 2009
Director - Tom Moore

1. The Secret of Kells - Poster

Plot summary / review:
Set in Medieval Ireland, The Secret of Kells tells the story of a young monk, Brendan (Evan McGuire) and the creation of the sacred "book of the Kells". Brendan has lived his whole life behind a fortified outpost called the Abbey. It is under constant construction by his uncle, Abbot Cellach (Brendan Gleeson), to protect from invading Vikings. Brendan is captivated by the arrival of travelling wise man and "illuminator" Brother Aidan, protector of the sacred book.

2. Brendan and Brother Aidan

Inspired by brother Aidan, Brendan's dormant 'illustrative' talents are awakened. It can be argued that one of the films underlying message revolves around the discovery and wonder of arts, crafts and nature.  Brendan ventures outside of the walls and into the surrounding forests to gather nuts to use as ink to help complete the book. There he meets a mysterious, forest dwelling, fairy-like girl called Aisling. Using her powers, she helps guide Brendan into the brave new world.

3. Brendan and Aisling

The Secret of the Kells is clearly a labour of love by director Tom Moore. "The story is a bit tangled, and there is too much of it packed into nearly 80 minutes, but little kids won’t be bothered when the animation is so magical." (Clark. 2010). Although the plot revolves around the sacred book illustrating the four gospels, it is never fully explored or explained. It is however at the heart of the films greatest success, it's visual style and design. Every shot of the film is "filled with patterns and borders, arches and frames, do-dads and scrimshaw images. The colors are bold and bright; the drawings are simplified and 2-D. That reflects the creation of the original book in the centuries before the discovery of perspective during the Renaissance." (Ebert. 2010).

4. Artistry

Moore's film was rightfully nominated for "Best Animated Film" at the Oscars in 2009. It doesn't quite reach the heights of it's competitors, including Wes Anderson's Fantastic Mr. Fox (2009), Henry Selick's Coraline (2009) and the eventual winner Up (2009) by Pixar. However it "is a rare example of The Academy using its powers for good, since the word-of-mouth that's followed has garnered it a UK cinema release, as well as guaranteeing that more than a handful of people at festivals will see it. And see it you must." (Ivan. 2010). Even if it is just to marvel and the beguiling animation.


Clark, Cath. Time Out Review - 29th September 2010

Ebert, Roger. Chicago Sun-Times review - 31st March 2010
http://rogerebert.suntimes.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20100331/REVIEWS/100339983 - Accessed 01/05/12

Ivan, Sophie. Film4 Review - 6th October 2010
http://www.film4.com/reviews/2009/the-secret-of-kells - Accessed 01/05/12


1. Poster
http://www.impawards.com/2010/secret_of_kells_ver2.html - Accessed 01/05/12

2. Brendan and Brother Aidan
http://filetraffic.eu/s/secret%20of%20kells - Accessed 01/05/12

3. Brendan and Aisling
http://www.kitsapsun.com/news/2010/jul/07/movies-secret-of-kells-animation-flat-and-just - Accessed 01/05/12

4. Artistry
http://www.blogography.com/archives/2010/10/amazonia.html - Accessed 01/05/12

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