On the outside, â€œThe Secret of Kellsâ€ appears to be an animated feature about the book of Kells, one containing the four gospels of the New Testament, created by Celtic Monks around 800 AD. A national treasure of Ireland, the book is a creation of immense beauty, fortitude and love.
However, in the end, that’s exactly what this film ends up becoming, as the animation and message make it more than worthy of the Academy award nomination it received earlier this year.
Trying to ensure the continued survival of the church and civilization from viking forces, Abbot Cellach, voiced superbly by Hollywood vet Brendan Gleeson [In Bruges, 28 Days Later], enforces strict regulations on his people and builds a wall around his abbey and town. Brash, yet loving, Cellach’s ways aren’t exactly embraced by his peers, but his leadership abilities and desire for his people’s safety have earned him their respect. However, in working hard to protect his peers, he is unable to quench the curiosity of his nephew, Brendan, who ends up helping the elder Aidan and his adorable kitty, Pangur Bn [who ends up stealing the attention off Brendan in several scenes], finish the book of Kells.
Going into the outside world for the first time, Brendan then encounters Aisling, a fairy, with powers that open up the entire world for the youngster. Together, they forge a friendship that helps young Brendan save the book and what’s left of his culture from harm. Endearing, amusing and pivotal to the development of the story, the time these two spend together is perhaps the best part of the film away from the animation, due to the not only the trouble they get into, but the action-packed nature of their encounters and friendship they form.
While this is of course charismatic, the animation in this film is what eventually sets it apart from the crowded animation scene. In an age flooded with films using computer-aided animation, â€œThe Secret of Kellsâ€ proves, all by itself, that there’s still plenty of room for standard animation to grow. Producing kaleidoscopic visuals, this film is visually stunning from start to finish. Even when the film begins, and the plot is a bit slow to develop, the animation alone will keep you in your seat, eagerly waiting for the story to come together.
Once it does, you’ll be rewarded with a rare blend of both mystical story and scenery, that helps in telling a tale that should have been told ages ago. Regardless of its religious undertones, the end result is one of magic.
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