Family Gala / UK premiere

The Secret of Kells

  • Tomm Moore /
  • Ireland, France, Belgium /
  • 2009 /
  • 75 mins

Brendan Gleeson (voice) / Animation / English

A bewitching animated fairytale for children and adults alike.

800 AD . The Abbey of Kells, County Meath, Ireland, and the monks who should be working hard on their illustrations of the gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, are forced to turn their attention from transcribing the precious manuscripts to building giant barricades instead. All over the land, the marauding Viking threat is taking hold and, with the future of the sacred book in jeopardy, it falls to Brendan, young nephew of the fierce Abbot Cellach, to save the day. Brendan’s adventure begins with the arrival of Brother Aidan, who comes to the abbey to flee a Viking attack on his home in Iona. Recognising something in the boy, Aidan immediately teaches Brendan the great and wondrous art of illumination, and under the tutelage of this celebrated master, the boy’s hidden talent for calligraphy is suddenly uncovered. However, before he can finish the cherished book, he must search the enchanted forest for the crystal that will light up the darkness and prove that enlightenment is the best defence against invasion. To help him in his quest, Brendan forges a magical alliance with the mysterious fairy Aisling, one of the Tuatha Dé Dannan, a race of fairies said to live in remote parts of Ireland. Aisling’s immense power over plants and animals helps Brendan on his way, but even she is afraid of the dangerous serpent god that lurks in a dark cave deep in the heart of the forest, and it will take all the strength Brendan can muster to escape from the awful darkness. Taking inspiration from the art contained in The Book of Kells, first-time feature director Tomm Moore and co-director Nora Twomey worked closely with artist Ross Stewart to achieve the uniquely hand-painted effect of the animation. The enchanting music, composed by Bruno Coulais (Microcosmos, Coraline) and traditional Irish band Kila was inspired by Sean-nós (old style) Irish singing. This absorbing historical imagining of how the Book of Kells might have come into being is a colourful fairy tale, sure to bewitch children and adults alike.

2009 Archive

Image from The Secret of Kells

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