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Sunday Movie: ‘The Secret of Kells’ (2009) (Ireland Month)

The second movie coming from Ireland I decided to watch for the Ireland Month, hosted by Cathy746books and The Fluff Is Raging, is ‘The Secret of Kells’, an animated movie. I know this is kind of an unpopular choice, but I stumbled upon a mention of this film at a blog, and I was immediately drawn by the fabulously looking animation – I really love animated movies and the prospect of watching an Irish one just seemed alluring enough for me to include it in here.

The film is actually a co-production among France, Belgium and Ireland (I guess it still counts as an Irish film?) and it was screened at the 59th Berlin International Film Festival. It has been nominated for quite a few awards and it has won numerous of them, being very positively talked about by critics. Some even compared it to Miyazaki films by Studio Ghibli.

Even though the film is quite short even for an animated one (hardly 80 minutes long), it still manages to captivate the audience, mainly with its stunning animation. Brandon, the main character of the story, is a little boy who grows up in the Abbey of Kells along with his uncle, Abbot Cellach, and other monks. His uncle is trying to build a wall around their town, so as to protect it from the Vikings, who have been invading and destroying many other places in search of gold. Brandon has been forbidden by his uncle to step outside the wall and into the forest that exists there, because danger is lurking. However, when Brother Aidan arrives at Kells and has Brandon help him with the completion of his book, the Book of Iona, he ventures into the forest despite his uncle’s orders.

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In the forest, he meets a fairy girl, Aisling, who offers him her help in his endeavours. No matter how important the completion of the Book of Iona is, though, the imminent attack of the Vikings is approaching slowly, threatening the peace of Kells and the lives of its inhabitants.

What amazed me in this film (apart from the beautiful animation, which I will keep on praising throughout this post) was the brilliant blend of magic, Celtic mythology and history and a quite solid plot with very interesting characters. The Book of Kells truly existed – it was a Gospel book in Latin and it was located in Dublin and the film draws on the story of its creation. As a mythology enthusiast, I found the existence of fairies, mythical creatures like Crom Cruach and many other allusions to Irish mythology and history greatly entertaining and highly interesting.

The use of colours was also very nicely done, as brighter colours were chosen when scenes of bliss and happier moments were introduced (like in the forest) and darker and gloomier ones when there was apparent danger or something ominous was happening or about to happen. I also loved the music playing during the film, as the Celtic inspired instruments suited the magical atmosphere really well.

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‘The Secret of Kells’ was a film truly beautiful. The astonishing art, along with the brilliant music and the engaging plot make for a movie that is aesthetically pleasing and enjoyable. I am so glad I decided to watch it, and I highly recommend it to any of you who enjoy beautifully made films.

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