May 16, 2010
When the Oscar nominees were announced this winter there was a film nominated for Best Animated Featured that I had never heard of, The Secret of Kells. It's a hand-drawn story about a young boy in the 8th century who defies his uncle, the Abbot of Kells, to work on an illuminated book. The uncles is consumed with building a fortress to keep out the invaders from the North. When a great book maker comes to Kells, after his own monastery is destroyed by the Vikings, Brendan learns the secrets of the art and discovers a magical world of nature.
The film is very beautiful. The visuals are quite stylized. I can't say any of us loved it though. The kids had a hard time understanding the story--and the accents. It's also more frightening than I was expecting. The suggestion of impending death and destruction is pretty heavy through the film. And the resolution is very abrupt and not terribly satisfying for children.
If you love hand-drawn animation you might want to catch this in the theater but leave the kids at home.