The Secret of Kells seduces American critics

  • 12.04.2010

Rarely so unanimous, the American critics have given (Brendan,) The Secret of Kells a rather dithyrambic welcome. It is first of all the graphic ambition of the film that pleased journalists used to more formatted feature films. Box-Office magazine wrote that the film was “a pure delight”, giving it a 4.5/5 rating.

The Wall Street Journal which on the same page of its website renames Clash of The Titans, Crash of The Titans, (nothing to see, but it’s quite funny) reports that “the soul of the film lies in its ravishing colors, and in exuberantly stylized images that pay homage to Celtic culture and design, together with techniques and motifs that evoke Matisse, Miyazaki and the minimalist cartoons of UPA”>I. Influences that clearly please his critic Joe Morgenstern.

Myazaki is mentioned again in the Los Angeles Times, which juggles with the film’s sense of anachronism: “The Secret of Kells” is an anachronism many times over, and what a good thing that turned out to be. A ravishing, continually surprising example of largely hand-drawn animation in the heyday of computer-generated imagery, an inexpensive and sophisticated European production in an age of broad-stroke studio films, even a spirited defense of books and bookishness while Kindles walk the earth, “Kells” fights the tide every way it can.”

If the San Francisco Chronicle who is also under the spell of this European curiosity underlines that the film had no chance of winning the Oscar for which it was nominated (and we are willing to follow him on this ground), he insists on the parallelism between the techniques used to make Brendan and the thousand-year-old art that it illustrates. “The Secret of Kells” snagged an Oscar nod this year for best animated feature, an award it had zero hope of winning. But you can see why it was nominated, notwithstanding the slightness of its characters and the slimness of its plot. In its small, stubborn way, the film is a love letter to traditions that have endured since cave dwellers painted the walls at Lascaux. Its own breathtaking artistry is a tribute to the steady hands that drew the Book of Kells – and the steady hands that keep at it today, realizing whole worlds from blank pages.”

The same is true of USA Today, which points out that “The mostly hand-drawn animation captures the art of the medieval era, augmented occasionally by computer animation. Scenes feature intricate Celtic designs in riotous colors worked into the landscape and elsewhere, including axe handles, tree bark, scaffolding and faces. The film’s vibrant and melodious Irish folk-flavored musical score heightens the overall enchanting quality.”
Conclusion: ” This beautifully drawn adventure will resonate with all ages – with an involving story and appropriate message for the youngest audiences, as well as striking imagery to captivate those far older.”
We could of course continue this press review for a long time, but its unanimity could quickly become boring: Variety, The New York Times, Village Voice, The Boston Globe, Hollywood Reporter or The Chicago Sun-Times are indeed in tune. And again… the list is far from being exhaustive. If some people are surprised that Tomm Moore is now in the sights of all American animation studios, we suggest they… Read this article again ?