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Directed by Tomm Moore and Nora Twomey
Featuring Voices by Brendan Gleeson, Evan McGuire, Christen Mooney, Mick Lally

The Secret of Kells, a Belgian-French-Irish hand drawn animated film, has been released on DVD. I missed this when it played my local arthouse theater. So, this was my chance to play a little bit of catch-up. And, you know how I love animated films. So, I had some high expectations when I gave this a spin.

The Movie

The film is set in the 9th century and tells the story of the monks that reside at the Abbey of Kells in Ireland. Abbot Cellach (Brendan Gleeson) has ordered the construction of a huge wall to surround the Abbey to protect them from the Viking hordes that threaten their safety.

Brendan (Evan McGuire) is a young boy that resides in the area. Although he is small, he is brave and very curious about the forests and woods that surround the hamlet.

One day, Brother Aiden (Mick Lally) arrives at the Abbey after a scary Viking attack. He wants to begin work on a book of illumination entitled The Book of Iona and it isn’t long before he has enlisted the help of young Brendan to make frequent trips to the nearby forest to retrieve berries for ink.

While in the wondrous forest, Brendan meets Aisling (Christen Mooney), a lonely little woodland faerie and they develop a friendship.

The Abbey receives word that the Vikings are fast approaching. Abbot Cellach doesn’t want to scare Brendan any more than necessary and uses the completion of The Book of Iona as a way to distract they young boy from the impending evil that is about to approach the safety of the Abbey.

The question is: will this small community survive an attack by the Vikings? And furthermore, will The Book of Iona be complete in time?

The Secret of Kells is a wonderful mix of fable, intriguing characters and a spectacular place and time to set a story that is strikingly different from other animated films coming out at this time.

I cannot praise the animation and art direction of this film highly enough. While I enjoy computer generated animation, nothing can compare to the loving, personal and organic feeling of hand drawn animation. The character design is eye popping and fresh.

The voice work by all is very solid. Of particular note Evan McGuire as Brendan and Brendan Glesson as Abbot Cellach. I also found the voice work Christen Mooney as the faerie Aisling to be compelling and refreshing.

The Secret of Kells is a well crafted and executed animated film that shouldn’t be missed; rather, this is a film that should be experienced. This delightful film deserved it nomination as Best Animated Feature at the most recent Oscars.  Add it to the collection now, or at least add it to the Netflix queue.


The Video

The Secret of Kells is presented in widescreen. The transfer is first rate, featuring a vibrant color palette and a respectable level of detail in the overall image. Also of note were the black levels. I did not notice any instances of grain or artifacts.


The Audio

The Secret of Kells is presented in Dolby Digital 5.1. The sound mix is lively with crystal clear dialogue and a nice usage of your speakers in your 5.1 sound system. This is solid presentation of this unique film.


The Packaging and Bonus Features

The Secret of Kells is presented in a standard amaray case with an intriguing cover that alludes to the fantastical nature of the film.

First up, there is an entertaining and informative commentary by the directors.

There are several featurettes that explore every detail of making this one of a kind film: everything is covered from the voice actors, concept art, storyboards and a look at the early days of the film.

Rounding things out is the original pitch trailer for the film and short created for the Oscars.


Overall (Not an Average) 7.5/10

The Review
The Movie 8/10
The Video 8/10
The Audio7/10
The Packaging and Bonus Features7/10
Overall ( Not an Average) 7.5/10