Today’s movie was The Secret of Kells. It was the last movie that was nominated for an animated film and it is relatively unknown. In the latest Entertainment Weekly magazine, they discussed The Secret of Kells and how it snuck into the Oscar race. Other movies thought to be nominated included Cloudy with a chance of meatballs or Ponyo. Instead it was the little movie that could, The Secret of Kells, that landed in the race with Up! and Fantastic Mr. Fox.
Now why is this movie nominated for an Oscar? I would like to think it’s because the story isn’t the run of your mill story. It’s doesn’t have this good looking prince looking for his princess. It’s a little boy that lives in a monastery trying to let his creativity thrive when wars are going on. What Brendan, the little boy, sees as most important is making illuminations, reading and writing. His Uncle, The Abbot voiced by Brendan Gleeson, is angry and is focused on building a giant wall that protects the monastery from the Vikings. His Uncle also wants him to carry on his footsteps and run the monastery.
The colors used in the film are brilliant and bright especially when Brendan goes into the forbidden forest and explores it with forest fairy, Aisling. He is in the forest that is outside of the protection of the wall, to gather berries that will make the perfect ink for The Book Of Iona. The Book of Iona belongs to Brother Aidan who wants to teach Brendan even though Brendan is not old enough to write or illuminate. Illuminate if you are not familiar is like an illustrator.
When Brendan imagines things, the viewer is brought into his own little world that is clearly defined by a border of squiggles and designs to let you know that Brendan is imagining. It’s quite cute to see the little boy at work trying to think of plans and stories.
The animation is unlike the Princess and the Frog which has characters that have soft features. The Secret of Kells had rough defined outlines. The animation style reminded me of Samurai Jack, a show on Cartoon Network a couple years back that had the same style.
Another nice point is when one shot of the movie was divided into three panels. It occurs multiple times. One time is when Brendan is traveling through the forest. One panel is climbing a tree, the next crossing a river and the one after is just walking through the forest. Another time the panels are used is to express time especially after the Vikings attack and Brendan gets older.
It’s not everyone’s type of movie especially if you aren’t a fan of monasteries and monks and religion. It’s a good movie if you enjoy beautiful contrasting images, Irish accents and learning about the beautiful book, The Book of Kells.
Oscar Nomination: Best Animated Film