Three-Word Review of ‘The Secret of Kells’

Brightest illumination ever.

The Secret of Kells

Captions don’t count: If you value things of beauty, see this movie. My kids enjoyed it, but were a bit confused -- for starters, we had to explain monks and illuminated manuscripts and why Vikings were jerks. Also, the movie departs from a traditional kid-story arc: The final act isn’t about defeating bad guys, but surviving them. While the story ends on an uplifting moment where light is brought into a dark world, it still felt like a downbeat ending to the kids because the good guys don’t sit back and high five at the end. “Did we win?” “I guess…” But no matter; it will grow on them as they mature, because this beautiful work stays with you. The signature art style is built on simplified lines that belie the complexity of illumination, suggestions of which accent the backgrounds and details in surprising ways that delight the eye. Yes, I said “delight the eye.” This movie brings out my inner New Yorker critic. And it would in anybody who has a soul, too. I only regret that “Kells” had to compete against “Up” for Best Animated Film. It really could use a wider audience. See it, see it, see it.


BONUS SCREEN GRAB: The Abbot’s bedroom, bedecked in his obsessive blueprints and calculations of a wall he’s building around the abbey. Look. Look!

The Secret of Kells


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3 responses to “Three-Word Review of ‘The Secret of Kells’

  1. bezer

    I’m just beginning to re-appreciate animated movies. To think I went from seeing 4 to 7 movies a week in high school, to having such a bad experience in 1977 at “Star Wars” I have yet to re-appear in a movie theater. But my last 2 animated movies “Up” and today, “Kung Fu Panda” (both on TV) although cartoonish visually are both totally adult centered and still let children appreciate the action, just like Warner Brothers did way back when. So when you say “see it” I expect I will, probably at your house. And soon.

    • jdrewscott

      I used to really give you crap for that no-movie-theaters thing, but I gotta say: I have fewer and fewer objections to that kind of thinking these days. Come soon, and we’ll get our Kells on!

  2. Romster

    The Secret of Kells was amazing! 🙂 I watched it awhile back on Netflix and enjoyed everything about it the story and animation, and Song of the Sea is just as brilliant!

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