I had the opportunity to see The Secrets of Kell at the Hollywood Theater with Gabby today. Even though I could have watched it a couple of months earlier while it was being released in theaters all over Portland, but time wasn't on my side. This time however, I was excited!
For those of you who have not seen it yet, I'm sorry if my blogging might ruin the story for you, but you have to watch the animation for yourself to truly appreciate all the beauty it has to offer.
The story tells of a young boy name Brendan, who lives in a remote medieval outpost which was under siege from barbarian raids. However, when a master "illuminator" arrives to their foreign land, carrying an ancient but unfinished book, filled with secret wisdom and powers, trying to protect it as best as he could, from the vicious barbarians that had already been seized his home, the journey and adventure begins for Brendan. It wasn't an easy journey for Brendan, for he has to overcome his deepest fears on a dangerous quest that takes him into the enchanted forest, where mythical creatures hide, and where he meets a young fairy name Aisling (who transforms herself into a white wolf). As the barbarians close in on his home and the people whom he loves dearly, he must quickly find a way to complete the book, and save many lives that will be lost. That is only possible with his determination and artistic vision to illuminate the darkness and show that enlightenment is the best fortification against evil.
The Secret of Kells was announced as one of the five features up for Best Animated Film, which at that time was accompanied by Pixar's Up, Coraline, Fantastic Mr. Fox and The Princess and the Frog. Though The Secret of Kells didn't win, but being nominated was enough to boost their publicity all around the world.
Here are some images from the film, and you can see how gorgeous, as well as stylized it is:
After we were done watching the film, director Tomm Moore, and art director Ross Stewart made their appearance to talk a little bit on the film, as well as answered some questions.
The said that within their budget, they tried to keep the film on the traditional side, such as drawing on paper with pencil and brining to life the art form of 2D, since it was beginning to be forgotten, as 3D films seem to take over the animation market. However, even though they kept it on the traditional side, the still had to use a computer for compositing. The backgrounds were hand painted with watercolor, and inked. They started the project in 1999, and finally finished in 2009 (out of those years, it took 6 years for the preproduction stage).
They took into a lot of consideration from other artists' work, which helped get them more inspired to produce such a stylistic look and feel to the film. However, they wanted the style to represent Celtic art, giving history to a more older Pagan belief. They had the honor of being able to look, and have access to the Book of Kells (granted by Burner Mead), but the concern of how much involvement the film was made the process a bit nerve wrecking for both sides, however, Tomm did a great job, and Burner Mead was proud of the results, and encouraged the team to finish their film.
During their pre-production stage, they didn't really know if the book itself, should be represented as a character, versus in just being an ordinary book (with importance of course). After much thought, if the book was indeed a character, the film will lose its seriousness. When they took a look at the book of Kells, they said it was like a shopping/grocery list, and the pages were trimmed. Back in the day, nobody knew of it's importance, and was put away until it was then discovered as the national treasure.
I love it when you get to meet the director, art director, or people who were involved in a fantastic piece of work, such as The Secret of Kells. Best day ever =)