The Secret of Kells Gets Solid Raves

The new European animated feature The Secret of Kells (also known as Brendan and the Secret of Kells) has been getting fantastic reviews in Ireland, where it was released last week. Produced by Cartoon Saloon/Les Armateurs/Vivi Films, this beautifully animated feature was directed by first-time helmer Tomm Moore’with co-director Nora Twomey’who also received the director-of-the-year prize at this year’s Cartoon Movie in France.

The visual style of the film is inspired by pre-medieval illuminated manuscripts, and the story follows an orphan boy living in the Abbey of Kells who ventures beyond the walls of the abbey to help the newly arrived master Illuminator Brother Aidan with an important task. As pointed out in the Variety review of the film ‘Their approach produces a pleasingly ye-olde-world-y look that plays off the simplified, UPA-studio-meets-the-Dark-Ages characters with intricate, Celtic design-inspired detailing, especially when the book literally comes to life.’

We hear that the Pixar is hosting a screening of the film for its employees this week. Let’s hope we a savvy U.S. distributor picks it up soon, so we can all see this great gem in theaters soon!

Here are some of the excellent early reviews we found on the movie:

‘The debut feature from Irish animator Tomm Moore immediately establishes Moore as an absolute master of his craft’a story teller and visual artist who absolutely deserves to be mentioned in the same breath as masters such as Michel Ocelot and Sylvain Chomet. His world is richly detailed and strikingly unique, folding traditionally Irish influences into a riot of color and detail that dazzle the eyes while the deceptively simple story goes to work on more subtle levels. His characters are just as richly detailed as his visuals, the messages simple and universal. This is no less than the arrival of a major new talent.’


‘The Secret of Kells spirits you back to the early Irish stories of your childhood. It’s quite beautifully animated, and in colorfully imaginative sequences the very pages of the Book of Kells spring gloriously to life.The story is sweet and dark in equal parts, and the fearsome bulky Vikings might be a bit much for the very young, but anyone else is bound to enjoy it.

‘The Irish Independent

‘Fans of Genndy Tartakovsky, the animator of classic series such as Samurai Jack and Dexter’s Laboratory, will admire the way Moore bends the Russian’s key techniques (bold lines, eccentric camera angles) to his own, very different ends. Wolves are rendered as jagged flashes. The Vikings become looming tree- people. Equally impressive are the flat, painterly backgrounds, which nod towards the perspective-free world of pre-Renaissance art’The Secret of Kells remains a surprising piece of work that should appeal to smart children and open-minded adults. Chemically befuddled students may enjoy it even more.

‘The Irish Times

“It’s an exquisite cinematic experience. There’s nothing overly Irish about it. It’s about beautiful things, it’s about fear and getting over fear, guarding the things that are beautiful and worth it, and not being unafraid to go and find it, to go and do it. Don’t use that word (educational), you’re not allowed to use that word, because if people think it’s a history lesson, they’re not going to go. They’ll say, ‘Ah, I might see it on DVD’. It’s to be seen in a cinema. Go and get your head blown away by it.”

‘Actor Brendan Gleeson, who voices Brendan’s strict uncle in the movie, as quoted in an article in The Independent.

Here’s a teaser from the movie: