We watched this film when we took out my dreads. I have never felt so captivated by the artwork of a movie - not even Lord of the Rings comes close to it, and if I say that, it means a lot.
It's called "The Secret of Kells" and tells the story of a young monk named Brendan who lives in Kells - a monastery and a village close to the forest in Ireland of the seventh century. Whilst the head of his order struggles to build a wall around the place to fight off raiding Vikings, Brendan discovers the beauty of the forest outside the walls.
Then Aidan, an old monk from the island of Iona arrives and brings with him the unfinished Book of Iona. Brendan is fascinated and soon loses his heart to scripture and illustrating. Inspired by his adventrues with Aisling, Brendan continues work on the book under supervision of Aidan.
When the Vikings attack and raid Kells, the two of them escape through the forest and wander through the lands for many years before Breandan finally returns to Kells with the finished book.
The story of the film is intriguing and mixes historic facts with inspired imagination. One can feel the love for the land and culture of Ireland that was the makers motivation for the production.
The plot, however, is not exactly epic. It lacks a certain drive or focus point and since the story also has a mellow ending, it feels more like a snippet from somebody's life (which it is) than a dramatically constructed story.
That means you don't have to spend too much attention on the story and can fully endulge in the fantastic and breathtaking artwork of Ross Steward, an Irish artist and the art director of the film. His character portraits are hilarious and deep at the same time. He uses a very two-dimensional style that makes you feel as if you were looking into a storybook where everything moves. His style is very fantastic and surrealist but at the same time it captures the spirit of a situation or a place in a way that no photorealistic animation ever could.
If you have any sympathies for nature or the old culture of bookmaking and historic Ireland, do do do watch this movie - it's truly absolutely stunning!
You can also watch the official trailers on the website.
Oh, and the Book of Kells - how the Book of Iona was called later on - is real and is on display in Trinity College of Dublin, IR.
All picture credit to Ross Stewart, copyright by Cartoon Saloon.
Thanks for reading!