Thursday, October 14, 2010

The Secret of Kells Review

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Hey guys, I recently posted a review for The Secret of Kells on Movie Cynics. This is one of those movies that is so good and so original that I just can't sing its praises nearly enough. If you haven't heard of The Secret of Kells, I don't blame you. This is an independently created animated film, and as such it hasn't had the same audience as a film of this stature would normally receive. However, if any film deserves your attention, it is most definitely this one.

The Secret of Kells is about a little boy who has lived his entire life walled up in his village and has been forbidden to leave. When a stranger arrives in town, the boy is immediately stricken with him as he discovers that the stranger is actually a man of some fame among the villagers. After the man finds his muse in the boy, he asks him to leave the village and enter the forest to look for a certain kind of berry that will produce the ink necessary to write in a most famous and precious book to the people. While this "precious book" will obviously sound familiar to anyone who has any experience with any religion, it isn't exactly the same kind of book. In fact, if you've ever heard of the PC game Myst or read the book series that it is based on, you might be surprised to find out how similar the books are in nature.

The book spoken of and referred to in the story of The Secret of Kells is said to have almost magical, mystical powers. Upon seeing some of the design that is used in the book, it is easy to see that the use of ornate and intricate detail is a most important factor in crafting and creating the pages of the book. This stood out to me, because these two factors are also found in the books of Myst, which are said to be so well written that users can literally open a book and be transported to another world simply by placing their hand on its pages. While it's obviously more likely that Myst borrowed heavily from the legend that this movie is based on, it was striking to see such parallels in the story.

The Secret of Kells is heavily based on Celtic legend, and the references to vikings are many and numerous throughout the film. It was interesting to note that the personages of vikings never take on any more detail than broad chested shadows with horns on their heads, making them look like demons. I'm sure that from the perspective of a young boy who has heard only ghostly stories about their existence, this is exactly what these evil beings are. This is one of the many reasons that the film works so well. On top of being told from the perspective of a young boy whose worldview is extremely limited, the animation design is very limited as well. No, this isn't because they didn't have the money, it is a stylistic choice which only further draws the viewer in.

I'd love to go into detail about the artistic design of the film, but to be honest I already covered it quite extensively in my review. If you want to know more about The Secret of Kells, I implore you to check that out, and get your hands on the movie any way you can. I was surprised and delighted to discover recently that the film is now available for free via Netflix Instant Watch, and in HD no less. Do yourself a favor and make this the next animated film you watch. It really is an absolutely fantastic film with only minimal flaws which do not detract in any way from the overall enjoyment of it. The Secret of Kells is a wonder to behold, and you owe it to yourself to check it out.
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