It's heart-warming to know that the British Isles can produce - in Tomm Moore - an animator with a vision that is undoubtedly set to rival the great Miyazaki. Amazingly, this stunning independent film was made for a mere £5 million - the catering bill for a modest Hollywood film - and was completely hand-drawn. Which doesn't mean it's crude or sketchy. It's as polished as a Ghibli or Pixar film. Every scene looks fabulous, and the film has audio and music to match. Yet surprisingly, even when it first opened in Ireland, the box-office was low and the film struggled with its American cinema distribution. Why? A few jaded early reviews probably didn't help - I vaguely remember reading gripes about the 'weak' plot, and other niggles, that put me off the film. How wrong they were, as the Oscar nomination proved. The story is fine, and the characters are well-delineated and engaging. The dialogue is crisp, well delivered, and the story moves along briskly. As for the DVD - the standard typography and choice of image for the DVD cover is not ideal - it wouldn't look out of place in the young kids' bargain bin. But I guess that it's the old Miyazake trick - lull the kids into a false sense of familiarity via the DVD cover and the starting few minutes, and then let the imagination rip later. While the film's visual panache will undoubtedly appeal to (and possibly frighten) 6-8 year olds, it's probably older intelligent children in the 9-12 range who will enjoy it the most - and possibly all the more after a look at the real Book of Kells in the online facsimile, and a read of the famous short poem "Pangur Ban". The DVD extras include two short 'making of' featurettes, and an apparently (I never listen to them) rather dry audio commentary. Overall, a gem.