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4.6 out of 5 stars
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4.6 out of 5 stars
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on 19 December 2012
I ordered this film for my grandchildren. What a wonderful artful, animated film beautifully put together with lovely celtic symbolism. A richly told half real/half fairytale story. I love that the celtic myth and truth is sensitively mixed together to form a basis for the existence of the Book of Kells. Although it is mystical it is in no way occultic which makes a refreshing change. I would thoroughly recommend this film for children and adults, who love all things celtic and Irish. Well done to the producers.
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on 25 October 2015
Visually, incredibly rewarding which along with a great story and characterisation makes this a real pleasure to watch. No religious preaching which may have put me off - a real winner and a film I will watch again and again.
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on 24 March 2011
This film is beautifully animated with a refreshing style of artwork, the characters taking on exaggerated forms reflecting aspects of their personality (akin to Belleville Rendez-Vous [2003] [DVD], among other animated features). The background detail is no less a masterpiece, landscapes are a blend of lush, enveloping, haunting, geometric and wonderfully detailed scenes. The Secret Of Kells is truly engaging and enticing for this reason and if that is all you are looking for, then no doubt you will enjoy it and need read no further.

Despite the films aesthetic beauty, it's lacking in depth on a number of fronts. A very linear plot, centred around a simple, one dimensional hero Brendan who is up against some very one dimensional baddies, the Vikings. All throughout there is but a hint of character development (the Illustrator from Iona gets a humorous introduction to the story as other characters recite their comical misconceptions of this mythical hero). Other than that, there is a distinct lack of background to any character. The second protagonist in (the mystical forest girl Aisling) simply informs us that the evil god of the underworld took her family and that's about it.

In Brendans predictable journey, he ages to the point where any boyish charm and intrigue he may have had at the start eventually erodes to leave a bland, almost-smug young adult who teaches uncle the error of his ways. Aisling, who from the outset was the most intriguing character - mischievous and magical yet serious and foreboding - is basically forgotten from the halfway point of the film and pretty much ignored at the abrupt 'climax' of the film. With quite literally only a nod of recognition near the end.

Whilst I fully appreciate this is by no means an historical film, it touches on historical perspectives and it grates with me that Vikings are simply portrayed as one dimensional killing machines hell bent on destroying everything...and not much else. Not only is this untrue (which isn't the reason I have marked it down) but it also lacks any credibility as it offers a distinct lack of depth to the villains and ultimately to humanity; Vikings were human after all. I can't think of any other children's film that portrays an enemy so poorly in this regard. For example, Disney villains typically have great depth, unafraid of showing emotion, skewed principles and dastardly ambitions yet children and adults alike will revel in their dislike for them. So I have no idea why the creators held back on the Vikings here, they just grunt, kill and leave, like boring robots.

Whilst my complaints may seem petty and harsh when reviewing a children's film and coming from an adult perspective, I have tried to reflect that in my score. However, I am a fan of many other children's films, both animated and live action, from youngster to young adult, from Studio Ghibli to Disney & Pixar but none have come this close to disappointment for me and none have faced such a lack of character development and bland, linear narrative.

In summary, this is a beautiful children's film, which in all probability will be enjoyed by children but lacking the depth of both character and story to make it a true great enjoyed across the generations.
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on 20 September 2014
What a fantastic animation. It's not often you can say..'Well I've seen something completely origonal, etched with picture book beauty from start to finish'. Tomm Moore and his team at Cartoon Saloon have ideas and genius in abundance. It's a production that will be enjoyed by any age or gender demographic. With music, storyline and characters that enchants, engages with the viewer on every level. Looking forward to seeing it again and again!!
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on 25 October 2011
I've been to Trinity College and seen the Book of Kells and it's very nice. Like so many antiquities it's hard to impress a modern audience; we take many things for granted. However, imagine what The Book of Kells must have been like to someone alive hundreds of years ago; the intricate images, the blazing colours - no wonder people saw the power of God in the pictures. One way of bringing the impact of these images to a 2000 and odd audience could be in glorious animation, as Tomm Moore and Nora Twomey do in `The Secret of Kells'.

`Secret' follows young monk Brendan and his involvement in the protection and creation of the Book of Kells. The film is undoubtedly breath-taking in terms of imagery, crossing the feel of Kells with modern 2D animation. The use of colour is exceptional and leaps off the screen, particularly in High Definition. As a visual feast there is little to fault with the film, but there needs to be something behind the surface to make it worthwhile. Unfortunately, this is not the case as the story is a little bland and has the feel of an educational film designed for the school market. With Vikings, burnings and magic there should be plenty to keep an audience entertained, but the voice acting is played so blandly that a lot of the life is sucked out of the film at the same time that the animation is trying to invigorate it.

In the end it is the tone and pacing of the film that lets `The Secret of Kells' down. Many people will love the film for the animation alone, but I cannot help thinking that with stronger voice acting and a faster story, this could have been a modern classic.
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on 28 June 2011
The Secret of Kells is a beautifully crafted film. The score and soundtrack keep you smiling, while the characters and story engage your interest. What really stands out though are the visuals. The colours and movement on screen are wonderful to experience.
The story line in The Secret of Kells is not simple enough for very young children to appreciate, but some of them will enjoy the experience of watching it nonetheless. My two pre-teens loved it - on both levels; story and visuals.
This is a film that you will watch a few times, even if only to be reminded of just how creative and talented animators and film-makers can be.
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on 3 June 2012
Sheltered Brendan, a young monk at the Irish Abbey of Kells, is constantly taken to task by his stern Uncle for his vivid imagination and greater interest in stories and books than helping the man build a wall around the Abbey to protect it from the Viking invasion. When an important refugee carrying an equally significant, incomplete book arrives at the Abbey, Brendan finds himself swept up in trying to finish it before the Viking threat materialises - with the help of enigmatic forest spirit Aisling.

This fascinating, beautifully animated film captivates you from beginning to end. The art style is directly inspired by work from the Book of Kells which inspired the plot, intermingled with Irish pagan mythology. Coverage of this vivid moment of culture and history is rare enough as it is, but the presentation is fresh and unique and accompanied by wonderfully haunting music.

In spite of the blurb on the back of the case declaring this a "kids' movie", parents should be aware that there are some very dark, frightening visuals and scenes of implied violence, particularly toward the end of the movie where the overall tone takes a dark turn. But it's beautiful and powerful, never patronising, and the perfect remedy to the shallow, safe, uninspiring cartoons plaguing the "for kids'" genre of today. This is a Dark Crystal of a kids' movie, and should be hailed as no less of a masterpiece.
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on 6 December 2012
What a great story. OK, not entirely factual, involves a bit of magic, trickery and fairies, but it is really magical.
I loved it, so did my boys (aged 8 & 5). My younger boy really identified with the main character, Brendan, and took to wearing a cape and sandals about the house! You'll watch this again and again.
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on 24 May 2014
I loved this movie (and so did my children btw!). It sparked in my children a real interest in a very vital and important part of our country's past.

The animation was fantastic, if a little scary for youngsters. I would say it might be scary for very young children. The animation is stylized which is done beautifully, but the vikings and the forest scenes would potentially frighten some children.

My only complaint would be that there was no positive mention of Christianity. There is no mention at any point of God, never mind Jesus Christ. The book was Christian. The authors were devoted Christians. But the movie gave more of an impression that the authors and promoters of the Book of Kells were more pagan than Christian. That real spirituality lay outside of the walls of the Church. Saying that I do understand that Irish Christianity was a mixed bag for a long time, and never really shook off its pagan past completely. There are still remnants of it in our culture to this day.

I had mixed feelings about the Abbot and the building of the wall against the vikings. He was fearful of the savage and cruel invaders. So much so, that he lost touch with what really mattered. He had become cold and hardened, yet there is always a feeling that just under the skin is the old "illuminater". He is constantly telling our young protagonist Brendan that he must never venture beyond the walls because there is danger out there. At one point he tells Brendan once again that he must never go beyond these walls, but this time he points to his head. Intriguing! It cannot be denied that Christianity has in many cases stifled creativity, progress and true spirituality rather than fostered it for fear of "outsiders". But ultimately this is not a Christian problem, but a human one, and we have seen evidence of this at all times and all generations.

Anyway, a very good movie for all ages. Highly recommended.
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on 23 November 2015
A beautiful story told amazingly well. The art style is enchanting and fits the themes very well which , along with some simply haunting music, really adds to the atmosphere of the film.
That said I wouldn't recommend this film for young children as some of the story is quite complex and at times could be frightening.for children under 10.
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