Tuesday, March 9, 2010

"The Secret of Kells"

This post was set to go live on Sunday before the Oscars but I didn't have time to finish it. I'm completing and posting it late anyway because this movie is worth watching (doubly so if you're interested in Celtic tales and myths) and is continuing to have incredible impact, including selling out to audiences in New York this week and breaking records for an Indie release.

The official website is HERE and includes resources for schools, wonderful music and much more (including even more images than are shown here).Now that Oscar nominated film "The Secret of Kells" (titled "Brendan and the Secret of Kells" in the UK and Europe) is opening in theaters in the US, a whole lot of people are being wowed by the visuals and story telling of this Celtic story, that's already received multiple awards and continues to garner critical acclaim. All the designs, including the characters, are based on the actual Book of Kells, making for a stunning and very different family animated film.Today, collected for your enjoyment from all over the web, I'm posting a variety of scenes from the movie.And if you don't know anything about the movie, here's a synopsis from Andrew O'Hehir of Salon.com:

A haunting blend of history, fairy tale and pure invention, Moore's film follows a young student monk named Brendan, who has spent his whole life inside the fortified walls of the Abbey of Kells, whose forbidding abbot (voiced by Brendan Gleeson) has built it as a sanctuary against the Viking raiders who are pillaging and burning Irish villages at will. (It's somewhere around the year 800 A.D., give or take.) Into Brendan's cloistered life comes a playful monastic wanderer named Aidan (Mick Lally), who apparently studied with the legendary St. Colum Cille (aka St. Columba) on the Scottish isle of Iona, and carries with him perhaps the single greatest treasure of medieval Ireland.

That treasure is neither gold nor jewels but a book -- a lavish illustrated manuscript version of the Gospels that in centuries to come will be known as the Book of Kells. (Today it is considered Ireland's most important single cultural artifact, and can be seen under glass in the Old Library at Trinity College in Dublin.) Brendan's yearning to help Aidan complete the manuscript, and safeguard it from Scandinavian marauders, leads him outside the walls of Kells into the magical forest around it -- and also out of the then-new Christian world into the pagan past.

Borrowing a wide range of illustrations and motifs from the Book of Kells and numerous other medieval and indigenous sources, Moore and his team of Irish, Belgian and French animators send Brendan on a mystical voyage. He is aided by an irrepressible forest sprite named Aisling ("ASH-ling"), but must go alone to face the terrifying Crom Cruach, an ancient and perhaps demonic Celtic deity who -- at least in some legends -- required the sacrifice of first-born children to ensure the harvest.

Want to see more? There's a blog HERE which has chronicled the production since it began and is refreshingly personal and positive (as opposed to a selection of marketing releases). And here's the new trailer for the current US release:

And here, at a glance, you can see how it all works together. Just gorgeous!
There's a special film story book released too, in which they've made an effort to capture the sense of style of the film, rather than just show images from the movie with text.Here are just a few of the pages (not in order):
You can find that book HERE. (Note: Amazon is currently selling this book for over $100 but you can find it in non-US stores, who ship to the US, for much, much less.)

Moving art full of myths and tales. This film is enough to make me consider going back into animation. I hope there are lots of extras included on the DVD and I can't wait to see how the next feature "Song of the Sea" turns out (think selkies and Irish folklore - see development pic and conceptual trailer below)!


  1. WOW! I hadn't even heard of the film until now. The animation style looks stunning, and the story sounds intriguing. Thanks for the heads up.

  2. I really like children's movies cuz they're cute but this movie seems very interesting. I will definitely check it out. Thanks for all the wonderful pics. :)

  3. This page has the dates when it opens at the US locations it's playing; it only goes up to about now but if you ask the distributors they might be able to tell you about ones further down the line.

    Another feature the studio currently have in development is one of Bluebeard; there's some concept art for it here.