Films can entertain as well as give us insight into cultures. Teaching not only history, but beliefs, important figures, and inspiring events. This animated film gives a fictionalized account of the creation of the Book of Kells, an illuminated manuscript of the bible which has since become an Irish national treasure. It's a culturally rich experience that minus it flaws will enthrall you.
The Secret of Kells tells the simple story of the boy behind the famed Book of Kells. The story while simplistic enriches us with a thoughtful story. One that put forth the importance of the written word, preservation of imagination, and the essence of civilized life. The plot while revolving around Christianity never gives off a Christian overtone. This aspect is rightfully downplayed so it can become accessible for anyone and making it final message delivery a reflection of what most valuable in life over a promotion towards religious views. The character archetypes despite simplicity given to them keeps the viewer interested. The world, just like the characters, are lively and energetic as well somber and sullen. Though it's not entirely flawless. The fast pace of the story doesn't allow development for important characters to flourish. Too many instances elements are merely commented on or significant key characteristic glossed over. Leaving closure on some story line to feel empty. Given it's a film that is about 75 minutes one will be shocked by the abrupt ending that never materialize the true power of the Book of Kells holds.
The animation style is a varied mixture of simple 2D with highly painted background, a few of monochromatic line animation, 3D animation, and CGI. The 2D style animation aren't really just single colors; the characters have ruddy cheeks, shadows cross them, dappled forest light dots them, even firelight is occasionally reflected from a face. Sometimes they contain the movement of secondary characters, or of burning fires, or of flowing water, or of stars wheeling through the heavens. The monochromatic line segments are intertwined with 3D animation usually in sequences with multiple, evenly moving layers. These segments are inspired from the actual book of Kells in terms of art style which are some of the best segments in the film. CGI is an enhances the visuals and is used very subtly. With the exception of one scene, the CG blends so well into the art style you'll be hard pressed to find a scene where it's noticeable. The sparse Celtic musical score is effective in evoking the sense of fantasy that imbues the film.
The Secret of Kells might rush it plot, but it visuals and what it culturally shares are mesmerizing. While it's not a faithful historical account of the creation of The Book of Kells it is a rewarding visual experience.