Film Review: The Secret of Kells
When I noticed that the Campus Film Series movie for this week was an animated film that I had not seen before, I immediately began squealing like a little girl. OK, maybe not like a little girl, but still … I got excited. I’m an animation nerd, what can I say? I’m a sucker for cartoons.
This week’s campus film is The Secret of Kells, a 2009 movie directed by Tomm Moore & Nora Twomey. The movie was nominated for an Academy Award (Best Animated Feature), an Annie Award (Best Animated Feature) and was the winner of seven international film festival awards.
The story, set in the ninth century, follows the story of twelve-year-old Brendan, the nephew of an abbot in the Abbey of Kells. Brendan is interested in the art of illumination, and when a master illuminator arrives from foreign lands carrying an ancient but unfinished book, the story takes off. This “Book of Kells,” as it’s called, is full of unknown wisdom. In order to complete the book, Brendan must embark on a dangerous and adventurous quest into the enchanted forest. Here he meets Aisling, a mysterious wolf-girl who becomes his best friend and helper. But as every dangerous quest would have it, the barbaric Vikings, a serpent monster and a rival bigger than life itself stand in the way. Will Brendan’s use of imagination and knowledge save him from certain peril? Will The Book of Kells be destroyed, and all knowledge lost?
You’ll have to see it to find out, friends!
The animation itself is unlike anything I’ve seen in recent years. Hand-drawn animation is the first thing you will notice; we finally receive a break from the computer-generated animation mania of the past few years. The illustrations themselves are a rich blend of geometric shapes and abstract clusters seamlessly penciled into one breathtakingly unique image. The use of color in this film is another noteworthy visual aspect. Trust me – the scene with the Viking battle will get to you in ways you didn’t think an animated Viking battle would.
Not to mention, the movie is actually quite amusing! While it sounds like a more complex story, you could probably take a child to the movie and they would find it funny. Sure, it lacks the fart jokes and off-color comments that so many of our favorite cartoons involve, but you’ll be glad to get the break from it. Regardless of the humor, the dialogue is quick, simple, and surprisingly proverbial.
In the past few years that animated movies have been released, I have never seen anything quite like The Secret of Kells. It is a standalone movie, one that has unique animation and a fantastic plot. I’m not usually one to rave about movies (I always find a downfall or two in each one), but this is the first movie in a while that I can honestly say I enjoyed from beginning to end.