Where to begin in talking about The Secret of Kells? It’s just an incredible experience, especially if you’re Irish. It’s animated – but it’s definitely not a kids’ animation, though it is the story of a child monk back in the late first millenium, Common Era – probably somewhere in the vicinity of 900 C. E. Since the Battle of Clontarf in 1014 basically ended the Northmen (as they say in the film) raids, it’s before then.
It’s also the story of the Book of Kells – that wonderfully illustrated book in the Trinity College Library, of which one page a day is turned. And it’s definitely the story of the once-totally-forested Ireland, and the myths, mists and fairies of that time.
The animation itself uses those old techniques and styles of Irish art, that are still in use today – always old, and always, at once, new. The use of color, the drawings, the merging of one thing into another. The powerful sense of history, the sense that right outside the Christian abbey of Kells is Summerland, the home of the Ever Young, the fairies (who are more like the elves of The Lord of the Rings than they are like our present-day image of fairies).
It is an experience of a story. It is felt and taken in whole, rather than observed and analyzed. Sound like a good experience? It is definitely that. At the Esquire. Enjoy!