The Secret of Kells Poster

The Secret of Kells (2009)

Animation | Family   
IMDB Rayting:   7.7/10
Country: France | Belgium
Language: English | Irish

A young boy in a remote medieval outpost under siege from barbarian raids is beckoned to adventure when a celebrated master illuminator arrives with an ancient book, brimming with secret wisdom and powers.

Director: Tomm Moore Writer:

Stars: Evan McGuire, Brendan Gleeson and Mick Lally

 
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User Reviews

3xHCCH 9 February 2010

I would not have known about this film if not for its "surprise" Oscar nomination for Best Animated Feature film. Thankfully, it came to pass that I was able to watch this animated little treasure.

The story is about the child Brendan who was the nephew of the imposing and overprotective Abbot of the township of Kells. The main pre-occupation of the Abbot is to build a wall to protect Kells from the attacking Vikings. One day, Aiden, the renowned illustrator from Iona, sought refuge with them. Aiden opens Brendan's eyes to the art of illustration and the lure of the outside world. Along the way, Brendan befriended the white forest sprite Aisling, as he sought to recover an ancient crystal invaluable to the meticulous art of book illustration.

"The Secret of Kells" is unlike most of the animation released these days. It is a throwback of sorts as the illustrations are done in stark geometric lines and design without much care for realism, as much as symbolism. The movements of these lines are reminiscent of the simplistic yet fluid animation style used at the beginning sequence of "Kung Fu Panda." However, it is the magnificent use of color that is the main source of wonderment for the audience. The reds used in the Viking invasion sequence is unforgettably haunting.

Try to catch this quiet gem of a film. It is a welcome respite from all the senseless bombast of current animated fare such as "Monsters vs. Aliens" and the like. The sparse Celtic musical score is effective in evoking the sense of fantasy that imbues the film. OK, the story might be a little shallow and the ending a bit wanting. I would have liked to know more about the Book that Brendan and Aiden was working on. But the clear star of this film is clearly its amazing stylized artwork, said to be based on the artwork in the real Book of Kells.

whistlestop 30 March 2009

The Secret of Kells is a film I've been waiting for for years after seeing some early footage at the Cartoon Saloon in Kilkenny. I'm here to tell you now it's been worth the wait. The cartoons are heavily stylised but not annoyingly so as I'd feared. The whole film is a thing of beauty and great imagination, I particularly love the animated illuminated book where the little figures come to life on the page. The characterisation is superb, I love Brendan Gleeson's voice as the stern Abbot and I especially liked the voice of the sprite Aisling. The forest is a triumph, such a beautiful place. The story is well realised, a mix of fact and fantasy. and really draws the viewer in to cheer on Brendan in his quest for the perfect materials for the Book. I'm a lover of calligraphy and illumination anyway so the subject is close to my heart, but all the people I know who've seen this and are not fans of the craft agree that it's a lovely little film. I will definitely buy the DVD when it's released, and would like to say, well done Cartoon Saloon and all the people involved in this mammoth project. May there be many more. :) Coming back in here to say that I bought several copies of the DVD as soon as I could and gave them out at Christmas, everyone loves it! And I wish them all the luck in the world at the Oscars, such a joy to see this nominated.

lewiskendell 12 October 2010

"Do you want to see the most beautiful page? The one that will turn darkness into light?"

The story of The Secret of Kells is a simple one. A monastery in Ireland hurries to complete a wall that will hopefully protect it and its village from the coming destruction of the Vikings, when it is visited by a monk who also flees the Vikings. He brings with him a special book that he is writing, and a young boy who lives in the monastery tries to help him complete it, and meets a shape-shifting forest girl in the process. The friendship that's made between the two may end up saving both the book, and the lives of the monks and villagers. 

The aspect of The Secret of Kells that's most noteworthy is the visuals. This is one of the most gorgeous and visually inventive movies I've ever seen. The art style is like moving illustrations from a book of English fairy tales, and it constantly changes from scene to scene, offering new things to see while keeping the same basic theme. It really is a beautiful movie, and I don't see how anyone could watch it and not be thoroughly impressed by the amount of creativity and work that had to go into making this.

On the whole, I think this will appeal to older teens and adults more than children, as it's a quite serious story, and pretty violent in some places. There's not much of the humor or kinetic antics that younger viewers usually like in their animated movies, but anyone old enough to appreciate The Secret of Kells will be quite pleased with this little gem.

otter68 18 April 2010

In an age where it seems all animation is either expensive computer generated, a-list celebrity vehicles or anime, which seems like it's all drawn by one man, it's refreshing to see an throw back to a time when animation was hand drawn and more attention was paid to the use of color and intricacy of design than mimicing real life or creating 3D.

The characters in this movie at times take a back seat to the scenery. The scenery alternates between what seems to be illuminated water color to illuminated manuscript illustration. It is breathtaking to behold on the big screen.

My main complaint about this film is that it was too short! I wish more time had been spent in the forest scenes, which are the richest in detail and color. One can imagine how the scenes in the Irish forest and wilderness inspired the illustrators of the Book of Kells.

The story is not simply a child's tale, and there's no potty humor as is prevalent in many Pixar and Disney movies today, but children with vivid imaginations and who love to draw will love this as will their parents.

idleprimate 3 May 2010

It's a shame there were not more opportunities for people to see this on the big screen. It is stunningly beautiful. There is incredible detail in the artwork, all of it an homage to illumination.

The reviews I read said the film was a spectacle and impressive for its art and topic, but that it was dry and slow. This simply isn't true. there is a rich and innocent humour in the film, and it is an exciting story.

The story itself is quite sophisticated. On the one hand, it depicts medieval Christian scholar-heroes courageously dedicated to preserving knowledge, creating books, and demonstrating reverence for words through painstaking arts, and on the other there is a magical childhood world of fairy folk and demons who are part of a hero quest that is mythical and dreamy. Both the Christian world and the pagan world are fraught with danger and violence.

The imagery, themes and music of this film create a work that is sublime, Yet the warmth of the characters and the spirited adventure ensures that the audience does not feel remote from the experience. This film ranks as an instant classic and a superb achievement in the medium of animation. having now seen all the animated films nominated at the Oscars, this one should have won.

See it any way you can, and don't miss a chance to see it on the big screen if the opportunity arises.

llamswerdna 25 February 2010

The Secret of Kells is one of the most unique, beautiful, and eye- popping animated films I have ever seen. Before watching this film, I was convinced that nothing could give Up a run for its money and that it was a shoo-in to win in this category, but I found in Kells a serious contender.

The Secret of Kells tell the story of a young orphan named Brendan, who lives with his uncle, the Abbot of Kell. The Abbot is a loving guardian, but perhaps a bit too strict and much more concerned with fortifying the wall around the town from a coming attack by vikings than he is at nurturing the boy's imagination. When the legendary Brother Aidan (who looks surprisingly like Willie Nelson) shows up and takes the boy under his wing, Brendan goes on a journey into the woods and meets a lovely forest nymph named Aisling who takes a liking to him (and saves his life more than once). With Aisling's help, he attempts to save the town and help Brother Aidan complete the mystical book which—legend has it—can turn dark into light.

See my full review of The Secret of Kells at: http://theoscarsblog.blogspot.com/2010/02/movie-review-secret-of- kells.html

jkbolio 9 December 2009

THE SECRET OF KELLS may be the most exquisite film I have seen since THE TRIPLETS OF BELLEVILLE. Although stylistically very different, KELLS shares with TRIPLETS and (the jaw-dropping opening 2D sequence of) KUNG FU PANDA, incredible art direction, production design, background/layout and a richness in color that is a feast for one's senses. KELLS is so lavish -- almost Gothic in its layout (somewhat reminiscent of Klimt), wonderfully flat in general overall perspective, ornate in its Celtic & illuminated design, yet the characters are so simplistic and appealing -- AND it all works together beautifully. You fall in love with the characters from the moment you meet them. You are so drawn to every detail of the story and to every stroke of the pencil & brush. What Tomm, Nora, Ross, Paul and all at Cartoon Saloon (& their extended crews) have achieved with this small budget/VERY small crewed film, is absolutely astounding. The groundswell of support amongst our animation community is phenomenal. This film is breathtaking and the buzz amongst our colleagues in recommending this film is spreading like wildfire. Congratulations to KELLS on its many accolades, its Annie nomination as well as its current Oscar qualifying run. They are all very well-deserved nods, indeed...

moviemanMA 4 February 2010

The Secret of Kells is an independent, animated feature that gives us one of the fabled stories surrounding the Book of Kells, an illuminated manuscript from the Middle Ages featuring the four Gospels of the New Testament. I didn't know that this book actually exists, but knowing it now makes my interpretation and analysis much a lot easier. There are a few stories and ideas floating around about how the book came to be, who wrote it, and how it has survived over 1,000 years. This is one of them.

We are introduced to Brendan, an orphan who lives at the Abbey of Kells in Ireland with his uncle, Abbot Cellach (voiced by Brendan Gleeson). Abbot Cellach is constructing a massive wall around the abbey to protect the villagers and monks. Brendan is not fond of the wall and neither are the other monks. They are more focused on reading and writing, something Abbot Cellach does not have time for anymore. He fears the "Northmen," those who plunder and leave towns and villages empty and burnt to the ground.

One day a traveler comes from the island of Iona near Scotland. It is Brother Aidan, a very wise man who carries with him a special book that is not yet finished. Abbot Cellach grants him permission to stay and Brendan buddies up with him. Aidan has special plans for Brendan. First he needs ink for the book, but he requires specific berries. The only way to get them is to venture outside the walls and into the forest, an area off limits to Brendan. Seeing that he is the only chance for Aidan to continue his work, he decides to sneak out and return with the berries before his uncle notices his absence.

In the forest Brendan meets Ashley, the protector of the forest. She allows Brendan passage to the berries and along the way becomes akin to his company. She warns him of the looming danger in the dark and not to foil with it. There are things worse than Vikings out there. From there Brendan is met with more challenges with the book and the looming certainty of invasion.

I like the story a lot more now that I know what it is about. Knowing now what the Book of Kells is and what it contains, the animation makes perfect sense. I'm sure you have seen pictures or copies of old texts from hundreds of years ago, with frilly borders, colorful pictures, and extravagant patterns, creatures, and writings adorning the pages. Much like the opening frames of Disney's The Sword in the Stone. The animation here contains a lot of similar designs and patterns. It creates a very unique viewing experience where the story and the animation almost try to outdo each other.

I couldn't take my eyes off of the incredible detail. This is some of the finest 2D animation I have seen in years. It's vibrant, stimulating, and full of life. The characters are constantly surrounded by designs, doodles, and patterns in trees, on the walls, and in the air just floating around. It enhances the film.

The story is satisfactory, although I think the ending could have been strung out a little more. With a runtime of only 75 minutes I think there could have been something special in the final act. It doesn't give a lot of information nor does it allude to the significance of the book. We are reminded of it's importance but never fully understand. We are told that it gives hope, but never why or how. That was really the only lacking portion of the film. Otherwise I thought the story was interesting though completely outdone by the animation.

I guess that's okay to a certain degree. T

TheLittleSongbird 8 January 2011

I love animated films, so I was interested in seeing The Secret of Kells. Overall I really liked it. However, I do not think it is perfect, the story has a lovely idea and starts off very well, however there are parts that could have been less detached and done with more development, and it could have done with less of a politically correct note(I wouldn't have minded if it was there, it just got a tad heavy-handed). Also, I think the film sags in the pace in the middle. That said, it is a very worthwhile watch. The Secret of Kells does look simply gorgeous. The backgrounds are stunning, and the character designs are unique, but I loved the picturesque watercolour-like colours most of all. Another strong asset was the music, I loved the sweet, lyrical Celtic lilt to it. There is also a stirring prologue and while the story may be detached as I've said there isn't a complete lack of emotional attatchment, you do care for the characters and there are some touching and haunting moments and the film teaches some good lessons. The characters are likable with good personalities and the voice work especially from Brendan Gleeson is excellent. Overall, while lacking a tad in the story, it is a visually and musically rewarding animated film. 7/10 Bethany Cox

StuffedCupcakes 10 April 2010

When I first watched the movie, the way everything was drawn kind of made me lower my expectations; that still didn't make me stop watching. I soon began to see that the two dimensional drawings came to life more and more as I watched. Watching the movie was magical.

The story was also great. The characters and their looks and accents made me interested in what was going on - I especially loved Aisling. Brendan is the main character, a young boy who is adventurous like any other his age however has to face some of his fears to help finish a book.

The whole movie was a magical, colorful, pictorial, unforgettable ride.

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