The Secret of Kells

“Refreshingly different precisely because its look is so profoundly retro... With its jewel-bright colors and intricate use of lines, the result is absolutely luscious to behold.” — Leslie Felperin, Variety
Director: Tomm Moore
Year: 2008
Country: Ireland
Running time: 75 mins

Ireland/France/Belgium
Co-director: Nora Twomey
Producers: Didier Brunner, Viviane Vanfleteren, Paul Young
Screenplay: Fabrice Ziolkowski
Editor: Fabienne Alvarez-Giro
Art director: Ross Stewart
Music: Bruno Coulais
PG some scenes may scare very young children

Voices: Evan McGuire (Brendan), Mick Lally (Aidan), Christen Mooney (Aisling), Brendan Gleeson (Abbot Cellach), Liam Hourrican (Brother Tang/Leonardo), Paul Tylac (Brother Assoua), Michael McGrath (adult Brendan), Paul Young (Brother Square)

Festivals: Berlin 2009

“Visually ravishing and doused in Celtic magic, Irish animated feature The Secret of Kells takes as its plot source and stylistic inspiration the eighth-century Book of Kells, an intricately illuminated Latin gospel that is widely considered to be Ireland's greatest national treasure... The film's historical anchor is the most prevalent of various theories about the origin of the Book of Kells – that it was begun on the abbey of Iona in Scotland, and later taken to the Abbey of Kells in County Meath, where monks continued the intricate and time-consuming work of illustration. But pretty much everything else in the story is either invented or rooted in legend. Our hero is child-monk Brendan, a red-haired lad whose curiosity keeps leading him into scrapes that incur the wrath of his stern uncle, Abbot Cellach. The other monks... tell Brendan in reverent tones about the greatest illustrator of them all, Brother Aidan from Iona. And soon enough sprightly old Aidan turns up in Kells with his cat Pangur Ban, fleeing with his precious book from the evil, Minotaur-like Northmen, who are pillaging their way through Scotland and Ireland. Helping Aidan to finish the book despite the disapproval of his uncle... Brendan strays into the forest in search of ink pigments...” — Lee Marshall, Screendaily

“By focusing less on the book... and more on the child who would eventually complete the years of labor that went into its creation, Moore and Twohey have created a charming, gorgeously realized fable about the power of imagination and art to thrive even in the most hostile times... The debut feature from Irish animator Tomm Moore... immediately establishes Moore as an absolute master of his craft... His world is richly detailed and strikingly unique, folding traditionally Irish influences into a riot of color and detail that dazzle the eyes while the deceptively simple story goes to work on more subtle levels. His characters are just as richly detailed as his visuals, the messages simple and universal.” — Todd Brown, Twitch

Read The Lumiere Reader's recent review of The Secret of Kells here.

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