Written & Directed by Tomm Moore
Released only in New York and Los Angeles for one week before the end of the year, The Secret of Kells was the surprise nominee for Best Animated Feature at the Oscars. Nobody had a good idea what it was and how it had gotten nominated. Word started to come down to, however, that it was deserving of the fifth nominee spot. Well, I finally caught up with it myself and I would have to say it got at least the third nominee spot, it didn’t just slip in there. There was a lot of talk surrounding Fantastic Mr. Fox and especially Up and even Coraline to some extent last year. After seeing this, as a personal preference, it might be better than all of those. Up was a magical ride and it is hard to imagine it being better than that but honestly, I think it definitely rivals it and there needs to be a conversation about it.
The story follows a young medieval monk named Brendan who lives in the village of Kells. His uncle is the overbearing Abbot and soon elderly Brother Aiden arrives to befriend young Brendan. The people of Kells, under the direction of the Abbot, are constructing a massive wall to guard against the attacks of the Vikings. Brendan and Aiden, meanwhile, are at work at an beautiful, ancient manuscript: The Book of Kells. In doing so, Brendan must go around the back of his uncle and tread outside the walls and into the forest. It is here that he meets the fairy Aisling, who helps him find what he needs on more than one occasion.
The characters are all so great and representative. The symbolism is fantastic as is the animation. Aisling was a spectacular addition to the proceedings and as soon as Brendan went into the forest I was hooked. The animation and the storytelling both were fantastically gorgeous. I had never seen animation used in this manner and it was so ornate and detailed yet so simple and bear bones. There was something special crafted here, some kind of magic that had yet been uncovered by other filmmakers. I would have to see it again to describe all of the great messages, symbols and imagery that made this one of the best films I have seen all year, but I would definitely highly recommend this film to any lover of animated films, or films that are beautiful. I can’t wait to see it again.