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Magic, fantasy, and Celtic mythology come together in a riot of color and detail that dazzle the eyes, in this sweeping story about the power of imagination and faith to carry humanity through dark times. Young Brendan lives in the Abbey of Kells, a remote medieval outpost under siege from raiding barbarians. One day a celebrated master illuminator arrives from foreign lands carrying an ancient but unfinished book, brimming with secret wisdom and powers. To help complete the magical book, Brendan has to overcome his deepest fears on a dangerous quest that takes him into the enchanted forest, where mythical creatures hide. It is here that he meets the fairy Aisling, a mysterious young wolf-girl, who helps him along the way. But with the barbarians closing in, will Brendan's determination and artistic vision illuminate the darkness and show that enlightenment is the best fortification against evil? THE SECRET OF KELLS is a France/Belgium/Ireland co-production of Les Armateurs, Vivi Film, Cartoon Saloon and France 2 Cinema and features the voices of Brendan Gleeson (Harry Potter, In Bruges), Evan McGuire and Christen Mooney
Run Time: 75 Minutes
Sunday, March 31st 2:00pm
With this film the main ambition was to tell a story that’s entertaining and captivating for a young audience while dealing with themes that will carry a resonance for all ages. In addition to telling an adventure story set in an exciting period of Ireland’s history, we endeavored to bring Irish culture and design to the screen and to deal with the importance of art and enlightenment in challenging and difficult times. Ultimately, I believe it is a story of redemption, continuity and hope.
Writing the story and developing the look of the locations and characters required extensive research. For the fantasy elements such as the enchanted forest and Crom Cruach we turned to Irish legends and fairy tales. Other parts of the film are based on the actual history of the time. Many of the locations are based on ancient Irish monuments and, for the scenes in the forest, we looked at passage graves and stone carvings from the Megalithic period. The visual style of the film is inspired by ancient Celtic Art and illuminated medieval manuscripts, including, of course, the Book of Kells.
The animation is primarily staged and drawn using the limited perspective and geometry that is strongly reminiscent of medieval art. This style was quite challenging to translate to screen but we feel the final result justified the extra effort, and it is a style uniquely appropriate to the story. We used mainly traditional hand drawn techniques supplemented by carefully-crafted computer animation for the most complex sequences. In an environment where 3D computer graphics is the dominant look for theatrical animated features, we felt strongly that this film, with its influences and subject matter concerning some of the greatest craftsmen and artists who ever lived, was best expressed through traditional hand-drawn animation. - Tomm Moore