The Secret of Kells charms the American critics

  • 12.04.2010

While they are rarely this unanimous, the American critics reserved a rather raving welcome for (Brendan,) The Secret of Kells. First of all, the ambitious graphics in the film much pleased the journalists who are used to more formatted features. Box-Office magazine wrote that the film was a “a pure delight”, and gave it a 4.5/5.

the Wall Street Journal, which, on the same page renames Clash of the Titans in Crash of the Titans (no relation, but it’s rather funny!), notes 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”. Influences which obviously please critic Joe Morgenstern.

Myazaki is also mentioned in the Los Angeles Times, talking about the sense of anachronism in the film: “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 , also under the charm of this European curiosity, mentions that this picture didn’t have the slightest chance to win the Oscar it was nominated for (and we can see why), it still insists on the parallels between the techniques used to make Brendan and the age-old art 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 sound from USA Today, noting 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.”

Now, we could go on and on with this press review, but hearing always the same could get boring: Variety, The New York Times, Village Voice, The Boston Globe, Hollywood Reporter and The Chicago Sun-Times are in agreement. And then, that list is hardly exhaustive. Now if certain people are still surprised that Tomm Moore is currently a hot target for the American animation studios, we kindly suggest that they … read this article again?