A story in pictures -- The Secret of Kells
October 14, 2010 7:18 PM   Subscribe

The Secret of Kells is now out on dvd (and Watch Instantly). Worth watching for beautiful animation, worth thinking about for its tapestry of Irish myth and history.

Brendan is a young monk, taught the techniques of Irish illumination by Brother Aidan of Iona. His home, the abbey of Kells, faces the constant threat of the Northmen.

Pangur ban takes the role of the friendly animal companion. But before that, he was a poem, celebrating the simple tasks of monk and cat.

Aisling guides our protagonist through the forest. But in poetry, she is a vision of Ireland's future in the form of a woman.

The focus of the story is the magnificent Book of Kells, which may or may not have been produced at the abbey. The film postulates that a magnifying lens was necessary to create the most detailed of images, such as the Chi-Ro page, though there is no evidence of the use of such reading stones in Europe until the 11th century.
posted by freshwater (23 comments total) 23 users marked this as a favorite
The Book of Kells is one the most amazing things I saw in Ireland, and I'm not particularly religious.

I'd like to see this movie.
posted by aclevername at 7:46 PM on October 14, 2010

I saw this movie in a theatre, and it was utterly captivating. See it if you can.
posted by Riverine at 7:51 PM on October 14, 2010

My city showed this at our lawnchair film series this summer, I immediately fell in love with it. If you can watch it under the stars it's even better.
posted by MaritaCov at 7:53 PM on October 14, 2010

The story's ending is kind of weak (very weak, actually) but the visuals are amazing, and the brief final sequence, with the elements of the Book of Kells' pages swirling and shifting, made me wish the whole movie had been made in that style. Would've been genius.
posted by mediareport at 8:04 PM on October 14, 2010 [1 favorite]

I just noticed this was available to stream on Netflix, and threw it in the queue. Movie night this weekend!
posted by padraigin at 8:04 PM on October 14, 2010

I saw the Book of Kells as well. It was on the page about the Judgement. I was surprised how small the book is! I knew if the illustrations more from reproductions in art books. I have an eye defect which makes it easy for me to examine and draw very small objects without the use of a magnifying glass. I believe the monks assigned to the task of illumination and copying could well have shared a similar problem.
The physically more robust monks with better sight might have done the heavier work.
posted by Katjusa Roquette at 8:05 PM on October 14, 2010 [3 favorites]

Neat post, I should add.
posted by mediareport at 8:06 PM on October 14, 2010

I just was over at a friend's and suggested this, and it was on instant, so awesome was had.
posted by oonh at 8:40 PM on October 14, 2010

I just saw this last night. The plot is unexceptional, and ends poorly, but it's cute and the animation is absolutely top of the line, and it's definitely worth watching.
posted by Rinku at 8:50 PM on October 14, 2010

Needs more Kelis.
posted by hermitosis at 8:58 PM on October 14, 2010

We loved watching this movie. I agree that the plot could have been a bit stronger but the visuals were captivating, to be sure.
posted by Lynsey at 9:04 PM on October 14, 2010

We saw the trailer and got the DVD on the day it came out. It's worth watching on streaming, but the extra features are worth waiting a couple of days for.

(nthing that the ending was a bit weak, but the style and execution of the visuals are brilliant)
posted by immlass at 9:49 PM on October 14, 2010

A vile bit of anti-Viking propaganda.
posted by phooky at 10:15 PM on October 14, 2010 [3 favorites]

So what were the little tabs that Brendan and Aidan wore on their ears?
posted by ottereroticist at 10:36 PM on October 14, 2010

There's a _book_ of Kelis? Once her milkshake has brought all the boys to the yard, is there a lot more to talk about?
posted by mhoye at 10:44 PM on October 14, 2010

Her milkshake brought all the Vikings to the yard. And that's when shit gets freaky.
posted by ottereroticist at 11:12 PM on October 14, 2010

I've heard very good things about this animation. Can't wait to see it!
posted by archagon at 1:00 AM on October 15, 2010

Yay! I know what I'm doing tomorrow night. I've had this saved on Netflix for months.
posted by mandanza at 1:11 AM on October 15, 2010

The Real Secret of Kells is to stay the f*** away from it by bypassing it on the N3.
posted by Homemade Interossiter at 1:41 AM on October 15, 2010 [5 favorites]

Great film. The soundtrack is beautiful, and the voice acting is wonderful. I wouldn't call the plot weak; the story is simple and creates a simple metaphor for a cultural history of Ireland. Thanks for reminding me to watch it again!

Also, support the creators by buying the DVD and/or the soundtrack.
posted by monkeymadness at 4:38 AM on October 15, 2010

I know what I'll be watching tonight. Thanks for the recommendation.
posted by fogovonslack at 8:12 AM on October 15, 2010

Watched this last weekend and wow, what a gorgeous movie! Thanks for this post freshwater -- while I was watching it, I could tell I was missing a lot of the historical/mythological references. This has helped to fill in the gaps.

Also, if I ever end up with a white cat, I'm now naming it Pangur Ban.
posted by natabat at 8:34 AM on October 15, 2010

The story's ending is kind of weak (very weak, actually)

The movie has an ending, but the story continues to this day. If the movie's ending feels abrupt, perhaps the story didn't hold a lot of meaning.
posted by Revvy at 10:14 AM on October 15, 2010

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