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The Secret of Kells (2009)

I really recommend this beautiful little movie to anyone who loves fine art, beautiful music and everything Celtic. this Irish made animation, directed by Thomm Moore (who also wrote the original story) and Nora Twomey, it tells the tale of young Brendan, and the creation of one of the greatest works of Medieval literature, the book of Kells.

The real Book of Kells is kept at the library of holy Trinity College in Dublin. Its date of creation id believed to be the Eight Century AD, and it is a dazzingly illuminated rendition of the gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. Moore’s animation uses the same illuminated style and the result is eye wateringly beautiful.

Brendan lives at the Abbey of Kells, in the care of his uncle the Abbot. It is the time of Viking raids, and the Abbot is determined to protect the Abbey and those who live there by building a wall to withstand the most savage attack. He is not impressed with Brendan’s desire to help a visiting monk, Brother Aiden, finish his mammoth task of writing and illustrating the gospels to ‘change darkness into light’. All of this is a waste of time, he reasons, when danger threatens.

The Christian theme does not dominate, for in his quest to help Aiden finish his book, Brendan meets a nature sprite called Aisling, who helps him find the materials needed to create the inks for the book, but it is, of course, an important part of the story. The Abbot’s obsession with building his wall to keep the Vikings out is contrasted with Brother Aiden’s desire to create something of beauty despite the darkness that looms - and maybe even help to dispel it. Brendan falls squarely on the side of beauty.

It is not the usual animated movie, for sure, but the sheer gorgeousness of the visuals, the music and the way it introduces the viewer to one of the greatest treasures of Ireland makes it very special.

I paid for this DVD with my own funds.


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