Tuesday, June 9, 2015

3 Short Paragraphs: Song of the Sea

2014, Tomm Moore (The Secret of Kells) -- download

Despite the popularity of Frozen I think the heyday of animated features has come and gone. Moreso, when you consider non-3D animations. The Pixar and Disney films will continue to come out, but traditionally animated films will forever be relegated to niches. I think it was about a decade ago with The Triplets of Belleville and Howl's Moving Castle and Persepolis that traditional animation almost felt like it was returning, at least for a more mature audience. The problem is that animation will always be seen as a kid's thing. Cartoons are not for adults. Still, I hope work continues on for passionate works like this one.

Song of the Sea is definitely for kids and adults. It is about a child born of a mythical relationship with a selkie and how her half-brother has to overcome his rivalry to rescue her, and in turn, save the mythical world from extinction. Ben and his sister Saoirse live on an island with a lighthouse on the west coast of Ireland. When Saoirse was born, their mother had to run, and Ben has resented his sister since. When forced to the mainland, to live with their grandmother, Ben discovers a pair of fae living in a fairy mound in the centre of town. And with them, he finds a destiny beholden to his sister. He must be her heroic protector against the evil witch Macha.

The movie is astoundingly beautiful. It is simply animated, no, not simple -- less complicated. The visuals are grand geometric shapes punctuated by lush watercolor backgrounds. Think of the best painterly children's books you may have read and wave them up to the screen. The story telling is, well, storyteller-y; the rhythms and beats are in the tradition of heroic myths & legends. The music, celtic and haunting, is introduced with Yeats, "Come away, O human child! To the waters and the wild with a faery, hand in hand, for the world's more full of weeping than you can understand." This is the mood, warm and inviting.