The Secret of Kells

Critics Consensus

Beautifully drawn and refreshingly calm, The Secret of Kells hearkens back to animation's golden age with an enchanting tale inspired by Irish mythology.



Total Count: 82


Audience Score

User Ratings: 11,524
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Movie Info

Young Brendan lives in the Abbey of Kells, a remote medieval outpost under siege from raiding barbarians. One day a celebrated master illuminator arrives from foreign lands carrying an ancient but unfinished book, brimming with secret wisdom and powers. To help complete the magical book, Brendan has to overcome his deepest fears on a dangerous quest that takes him into the enchanted forest, where mythical creatures hide. It is here that he meets the fairy Aisling, a mysterious young wolf-girl, who helps him along the way. But with the barbarians closing in, will Brendan's determination and artistic vision illuminate the darkness and show that enlightenment is the best fortification against evil?


Evan McGuire
as Brendan
Brendan Gleeson
as Abbot Cellach
Liam Hourican
as Brother Tang/Leonardo
Paul Tylack
as Brother Assoua
Paul Tylak
as Brother Assoua
Paul Young
as Brother Square
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Critic Reviews for The Secret of Kells

All Critics (82) | Top Critics (24) | Fresh (75) | Rotten (7)

Audience Reviews for The Secret of Kells

  • Sep 11, 2015
    It's a beautiful film. The story slips in the third act, but not enough to completely ruin it.
    Marcus W Super Reviewer
  • Jun 24, 2014
    The animation was gorgeous, although it was a little dark and scary. The toddlers didn't find it scary though, and were gripped all the way through.
    Angela A Super Reviewer
  • Sep 21, 2013
    Laden with the magic of childhood like donuts are covered in powdered sugar this simple tale about the creation of a book is less about story and impact than about mood, memory and remembrance, not about how things are so much as how they seem and a patina of wonder settles over you, the blanket over your head as a child and wondering what all those sounds are out there. The story is a slight and wistful thing, a snowflake melting on your palm, but one that chose to fly to you.
    Kevin M. W Super Reviewer
  • Jul 24, 2013
    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.
    Caesar M Super Reviewer

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