Wednesday, October 27, 2010

"Turning Darkness into Light"

Directors:  Tomm Moore, Nora Twomey

The Dish:  Brendan is a young boy living within a stronghold on the island of Iona, namely Ireland, during a time of siege by barbarian raiders.  He has only ever known life within the stronghold, yet Brendan often has visions of the outside world.  When he attempts to confess these visions to his uncle, Abbot Cellach, leader and a former illuminator, the Abbot merely reiterates the importance of completing the stronghold against the raiders.  However, it is with the arrival of Brother Aidan, a remarkable and celebrated illuminator carrying an unfinished ancient book, that Brendan begins to realize what is his true task.  Wandering outside of the stronghold, he meets Aisling, a faerie/wolf-girl, who guides him through her forest eventually leading him to where his personal battle will take place.  This is the story about a boy who would complete one of the most important and beautiful books in the world...The Books of Kells.  

When I viewed this movie, I was immediately captivated by the unique animation used in conveying both characters and landscape.  Although not as pristine as other animation styles, it still manages to breathe life into the whole of the story while also sharing something new.  I enjoyed the characters of Aisling, Pangur Ban, Brendan, and Aidan the most and in that order.  As one of the fae, the viewer can definitely see that Aisling, despite her spryness and childish nature, is well beyond her years.  She has seen much, yet it is this intruding boy that draws her out to assist and save him on numerous occasions.  Pangur Ban is Aidan's cat and has probably been through more experiences in the first of her nine lives than any other cat before her.  She is very much a cat especially in the way she treats Brendan, at first ignoring and even running from him before befriending the boy and accompanying him on his journeys in the forest.  Brendan is...not entirely a typical boy, at times playing but always meek before his uncle the Abbot.  Being raised behind walls will probably do that to any child especially under such heavy scrutiny.  But it is Aidan who helps bring out the best in Brendan while also bringing out a more rebellious side in him, too.  

The story in itself is fiction, but The Book of Kells is a real work, an artfully decorated version of the Four Gospels of the Bible on display in the library of Trinity College in Dublin, Ireland.  If ever there was a book worth seeing, I would definitely think this is one for the ages.  And if there ever was a story that could capture the life of the boy behind this famous book, a story of legend, cultural lore and fantasy, The Secret of Kells is perhaps one of the finest renditions. 


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