Muse of the Month: The Secret of Kells

For July’s Muse of the Month, I’m excited to talk about one of the most under-appreciated animated films of all time, and one of my favorite movies ever… The Secret of Kells!

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A breathtaking visual journey, The Secret of Kells follows an ambitious Irish boy named Brendan, who, against his uncle’s wishes, becomes enthralled with the art of illuminated manuscripts. Brimming with references to historical events and Irish mythology, Brendan faces both human and supernatural threats as he works to help complete the fabled Book of Kells. Balancing colorful, lighthearted interludes with profound narrative arcs, The Secret of Kells tells an epic story of art, magic, and war.

Screenshots from The Secret of Kells

While I could write several more paragraphs in an attempt to do this brilliant story justice without spoiling the plot, the real magic is in the artwork and animation. The style and visual language of the film flawlessly communicates the wildness and elegance of nature, the diversity of the cast of characters, and the oft-looming thrill of danger, all while evoking the look and feel of medieval artworks. The mesmerizing patterns and motifs characteristic of Celtic art are as much a part of the movie as Brendan, and they effectively turn every frame of the hour and fifteen-minute long film into a stunning and unique work of art.

Screenshots from The Secret of Kells

When it comes down to it, The Secret of Kells is one of those rare animated movies that is both emotionally moving and jaw-droppingly gorgeous to behold. Inspired by – and comparable to – films such as The Thief and the Cobbler, Disney’s Mulan, and the works of Hayao Miyazaki, The Secret of Kells should be considering required viewing material to anyone who can appreciate animation, art, and Celtic mythology.

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