This one is an animated movie for kids but so lovely that we can count it for adults too. If you know anything about the Book of Kells then you will be expecting a lot from the animation in this movie and you will not be disappointed!
The Secret of Kells is a delicious period piece that is so beautifully animated it’s like taking a stroll through a Celtic art gallery. The characters themselves look like classic 70s animation with quite basic blocky figures. The beauty of this film is in the scenery. Just like the Book of Kells it is the illuminations around the words where the wonder is found.
The Secret of Kells tells the story of the Book and its production during a time of Viking incursions into Ireland that strike immense fear into the Irish. This is a factual historical reference with Vikings marauding along the Irish coast during medieval times and the Book being dated to this period.
The Vikings are animated as monsters from nightmare and are not characters in the usual sense. They are a hoard of warriors that only mutter ‘gold,gold,gold’. They don’t care about art just gold. It is clearly very one-sided but as the story is told through the eyes of an Irish child it is quite clever.
There is a love of nature in the film which ties in beautifully with the Book again. The well known Celtic tree of life design is visible in the gorgeous trees of the forest outside the monastery. The forest itself is a mysterious and wonderful character in the film.
And one of the main characters is a cat. As a crazy cat lady in training (need a few more cats to claim the title), I love a cat as a character. I liked this little Disney touch and it worked well into the fairy tale nature of the movie, with animals, both wild and tame, being intertwined with the character of the forest.
Basically this movie won’t teach you anything (unless you don’t know the Book of Kells) but it will amaze you with the quality of animation and the joy at its heart in finding truth and love in the simple things.
It is a bit gruesome in parts with the Vikings marauding through villages. This is as realistic as you would want it to be in a kids film and the littlies might actually be frightened. It’s a bit slow in the start (for a while I wondered if I’d make it through – luckily comfortable couch force led me to remain in place) and the story is slow going in itself but the animation and beauty of the film had me hooked.