The Secret of Kells

I had originally intended to write a post about the things I’ve been reading, watching and playing this month, but I went off on a tangent about a movie I just watched and decided that I might as well dedicate a whole entry to it.

18ltaf1ma8eqojpgI needed a movie to nap by, and so I chose The Secret of Kells off of Netflix on a whim. Turned out to be a bad choice, because I ended up staying up to watch it. The movie involved all the things I like – illuminated manuscripts, the Book of Kells, the medieval church, the Vikings raiding the coast (actually I don’t like that – it’s heartbreaking. I love vikings, but only when they stay in their own country and kill Grendelseses and drink in mead-halls), and Irish shit. Y’all know I love Irish shit.

Anyway, what a beautiful movie – storywise, sure, but especially artwise. The animators who worked on it are absolute artists. Almost every scene evokes the intricate spirals and knots and brilliant colors of illuminated manuscripts.


There are a lot of patterns in the background – reminiscent of stained glass or the pages of the Book of Kells itself. Celtic knots in the trees! I loved that. A lot of repeating motifs to tie things together. The character design is deceptively minimalistic – a lot of simple, curved lines, but they’re used to the best effect. The Vikings are ugly and square and shades of grey compared to the artful lines and jewel tones of the landscape and people of Kells. It takes talent to be able to imbue just a few lines and splotches of color with all that personality and character. . . Honestly, it reminds me a little bit of the Western version of a Miyazaki film. Not one scene is wasted in Secret of Kells – every shot looks like the page from a storybook.

And I understand it’s been popular for quite a while, so maybe I’m late to the game on this one, but seriously. CHECK IT OUT. SO PRETTY.

(Don’t know, however, that I would necessarily recommend it for young kids! They portray – appropriately – the vikings as these scary nightmares, and there’s some forest scenes that might be way too spooky for little ones.)


4 responses to “The Secret of Kells

  1. I’ve had this in my Netflix queue forever, but haven’t managed to watch it yet. Thanks for the review!

    • Oh, I think you especially will like it very much! There is something about the minimalist nature of it (it’s the best way I can think of to describe the dialogue and story, anyway) that reminds me of Miyazaki, and I feel like you’ve said you are a fan of his films.

      • Oh yes, I love the Miyazaki. I love Howl’s Moving Castle and KiKi’s Delivery Service. (Dogs KiKi and GiGi are named after the characters in that movie. My sister wasn’t cool so instead of naming her dog Tombo, he is Oliver. So boring.)

      • Oh! I should have realized that. How great! To be fair though, Oliver’s also a pretty good name for a dog.

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