Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Secret of Kells (2009) NYICFF

Surprise Oscar nominee for Best Animated Film is the best of the five films up for the award. Its an amazing achievement and one of the best animated films ever made.

This is the story of Brendan. He is a young monk in the village of Kells. His uncle is the Abbot and he is concerned with the building of a wall around the village in case the vikings should attack. When Aidan, a monk from a monastery that was destroyed by the vikings, arrives carrying a magnificent book he is illuminating, Brendan begins to view the world differently. Setting foot outside of the walls for the first time he meets Aisling, a forest spirit and be begins to see the wonder of the world.

I can't describe this film properly. Designed to look like the art of the period during which the Book of Kells was written this film is a work of art come to life. Its a film that looks like no other film out there.

The film's story is simple, and yet it doesn't behave like we are used to. The film sets up a real sense of dread. People die and are hurt. And yet there is laughter and humor and a sense of life, people go on, life goes on . There is darkness and light, as the film says very clearly just because you build a wall the world doesn't cease to be dangerous.

This is a wonderful film that treats its audience like real people. It behaves like real life or at least a better version of reality than most movies. It doesn't follow the same old cliches. That irked some of the kids in the audience who didn't like the darkness nor the fact that the film didn't go as they thought it should. Blame Hollywood. Blame Disney. Blame Pixar (who've made enough films they are now formulaic even if they are better than average). Even blame the manga and anime masters who very often crank out stories according to their own cliches.

Tomm Moore the director spoke after the screening at the NYICFF and said he and his fellow Irish Animators were inspired by (I think he said) Hungarian animation that was based on Hungarian folk tales. They wanted to do something uniquely Irish.

They succeeded and then some. Not only did they make a film that is uniquely Irish, but they also made a film that transcends recent trends in film making and is a masterpiece.

This film is due to be released in the US on St Patrick's Day. I really suggest you go and see it. If not you could wait for the eventual DVD, or simply order one of the various overseas DVDs (I'm seriously considering getting one of those)

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