Song Of The Sea
Director: Tomm Moore.
Screenplay: Will Collins, Tomm Moore.
Voices: David Rawle, Brendan Gleeson, Fionnula Flanagan, Lisa Hannigan, Lucy O’Connell, Jon Kenny, Pat Shortt, Colm Ó’Snodaigh, Liam Hourican, Kevin Sweirszcz, Will Collins, Paul Young.
“My son, remember me in your stories and in your songs. Know that I will always love you.”
After receiving an Oscar nomination for his exquisitely animated film The Secret of Kells in 2009, director Tomm Moore achieved the same again with his unique style of animation for his follow-up, Song of the Sea. In the first instance, he lost the Oscar to Disney’s Up and the second time around Disney prevailed again with Big Hero 6. However, it’s still good to see Moore’s films challenge such big hitters.
After the death of their mother, Ben and his little sister Saoirse are sent to live with their grandmother as their father is still in grieving. They take it upon themselves to find their own way back home by embarking on a fantastical journey across the sea where they are tasked with freeing faeries and saving the spirit world while discovering the magic and ancient legend of the Selkies – mythical seals who, when on land, can change into human form.As he had previously done in The Secret of Kells, Moore again focuses on Irish folklore and imbues the whole tale with the same ethereal beauty that he employed so stunningly in his debut. His traditional, hand-drawn animation is a joy to behold and so refreshing in an age of overproduced, computer generated material. Despite having made only two films (and a contribution to Khalil Gibran’s The Prophet), Moore has been mentioned in a similar light to the great Japanese animator Hayao Miyazaki in his ability to create his own magical and enchanting stories. Personally speaking, I think the comparison to Miyazaki is far too premature but Moore is certainly an undoubted talent, regardless. His worlds and imagination can, at times, be breathtaking and Song of the Sea is a wonderful piece of storytelling. Like The Secret of Kells, however, the film has slight pacing issues but this should only really affect the concentration of younger viewers. Other than that, Moore has refined a lot of the faults that befell his debut. His story is stronger and more involving and his decision to stick with composer Bruno Coulais and Irish folk band Kila results in a perfectly fitting score that captures and compliments the essence of Celtic mythology.A rich and beautifully crafted rights-of-passage fable where the story and imagery interweave with near perfection. Thoroughly deserving of it’s Oscar nomination last year and very unlucky to lose out to Big Hero 6. The Academy are well known for making wrong decisions but it’s hugely disappointing that they’d overlook this in favour of something that just happened to make more money. This is a genuine gem of animation.Mark Walker
Trivia: Selkies are seal folk in Scottish and Irish culture. They are said to crawl ashore at night, and change into beautiful ladies and handsome men with seductive powers over humans. “Selkie” comes from the Scottish word “silche” (seal) and they are said to inhabit the Orkney and Shetland islands above Scotland.