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Secret of Kells, The


Stars: Voices: Evan McGuire, Brendan Gleeson, Mick Lally, Christen Mooney

Director: Tomm Moore

Set in a ninth-century Irish abbey whose inhabitants are awaiting invasion by Vikings, this is a stylish (and stylised) cartoon feature spun around the origin of the Book of Kells, an illuminated manuscript that has survived down the centuries.

Shot in bold primary colours - blue and green for forest scenes, red, black and white for battles etc, the film is a cross between papier-maché animation and the old-fashioned hand-drawn cartoon style, many of the shots resembling tableaux from long ago.

The middle section of the film is the most interesting, but it won't appeal to all children, who will find their patience occasionally stretched to the limit, in spite of the presence of a magical cat and a sprite of the woods (Mooney), who helps Brendan (McGuire), the 10-year-old hero of the piece. He's a novice attached to the abbey who, in trying to help a monk (Lally) complete the manuscript, defies his uncle the Abbot (Gleeson) to venture outside the abbey walls.

Often enchanting, the film remains a hard sell in box-office terms, especially as it doesn't have a big climax.

David Quinlan

France/Belgium/Ireland 2008. UK Distributor: Optimum. Colour.
79 minutes. Not widescreen. UK certificate: PG.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 0, Violence/Horror 0, Drugs 0, Swearing 0.

Review date: 01 Oct 2010