Wednesday, February 11, 2009

some press

I thought it might be good use of this blog to put up some of the press we've gotten so far and links to interviews and stuff.
Anyone in Ireland should watch the Late Late Show this week as Pat has a great show lined up and the voice of Abbot Cellach , Brendan Gleeson is on .....

Vincent Donnelly, Movies Plus magazine and

“I loved THE SECRET OF KELLS, the movie has a magical other-worldy feel that reminded me of Hayao Miyazaki's movies (such as Spirited away) It's one of the most visually arresting animations I've seen, every frame is a work of art. That coupled with a perfect soundtrack and a back-drop of Irish folklore, it's impossible not to love it.”

Michael Doherty, The RTE GUIDE

“The film combines the visual beauty of Celtic typography with the humour of Belleville Rendezvous and the charm of Miyazaki’s Spirited Away.”

Lee Marshall in Berlin
09 Feb 2009 18:02

Dir: Tomm Moore. Ireland-France-Belgium. 2008. 78mins.

Visually ravishing and doused in Celtic magic, Irish animated feature Brendan And The Secret Of Kells takes as its plot source and stylistic inspiration the eighth century Book of Kells, an intricately illuminated Latin gospel that is widely considered to be Ireland's greatest national treasure.

Brendan is certain to draw fans in the 5-11 core audience, although though its weight of exposition and hand-drawn 2-D animation style may make it a niche product rather than a marquee title outside of its home territory. The US could prove to be an exception, though, where its huge diaspora Irish community will make it a key market.

The film's historical anchor is the most prevalent of various theories about the origin of the Book of Kells – that it was begun on the abbey of Iona in Scotland, and later taken to the Abbey of Kells in County Meath, where monks continued the intricate and time-consuming work of illustration. But pretty much everything else in the story is either invented or rooted in legend.

Our hero is child-monk Brendan, a red-haired lad whose curiosity keeps leading him into scrapes that incur the wrath of his stern uncle, Abbot Cellach. The other monks – an international bunch, bringing home just how cosmopolitan European monasteries were in the so-called Dark Ages – tell Brendan in reverent tones about the greatest illustrator of them all, Brother Aidan from Iona.

And soon enough sprightly old Aidan turns up in Kells with his cat Pangur Ban, fleeing with his precious book from the evil, Minotaur-like Northmen, who are pillaging their way through Scotland and Ireland. Helping Aidan to finish the book despite the disapproval of his uncle (for whom the only useful job is building walls to keep the invaders out), Brendan strays into the forest in search of ink pigments, and is saved from danger by a white wolf who turns out to be Aisling, a mischievous, impulsive girl-sprite.

Director Tomm Moore and his team really excel themselves in these forest sequences, where Irish monasticism meets Busby Berkeley. At times, motifs from megalithic passage graves and Celtic jewellery float in the background like micro-organisms under a microscope, or fall in the form of snowflakes. Perspective is flattened out, and Brendan and Aisling are framed inside branches, just as Biblical characters were framed inside the opening letters of illuminated manuscript pages.

Occasionally, the action spreads across the screen in three separate frames, reminding us that the spatial narrative techniques of Medieval painting and modern graphic novels are not far removed.

Kids weaned on Pixar may look down on Brendan, but as with Miyazaki, it's a parental duty to drag them along to this captivatingly original take on Old School animation.

Production companies
Cartoon Saloon
Les Armateurs
Vivi Film
France 2 Cinema

International sales
Celluloid Dreams
(33) 1 49 70 03 70

Nora Twomey

Didier Brunner
Viviane Vanfleteren
Paul Young

Tomm Moore

Tomm Moore
Fabrice Ziolkowski

Art Director
Ross Stewart

Fabienne Alvarez-Giro

Bruno Coulais

Voice cast
Evan McGuire
Mick Lally
Christen Mooney
Brendan Gleeson
Liam Hourrican

A true delight to watch

Truly magnificent, magical and captivating all in one. This is the most amazing animation film I have ever been fortunate enough to watch.

von Stella Woeste, 15

"You must go where I can not. Pangur Bán, Pangur Bán..." The fairy child with the soft and melodious voice befriends the young Brendan who lives behind a strong wall with his uncle, Abbot Cellach who watches over Brendan's education. The wall is there to protect its inhabitants from the dangerous men from the north, the vikings who have already burned several villages, killing every man, woman and child. When Brendan wanders where he should not, he meets the fairy child and begins on his hunt for a secretive crystal that will enlighten him on finishing a book. The book of Iona for his new friend, Brother Aidan. That's where all the adventure begins.

This movie is absolutely beautiful. It is a work of art in itself and is a true delight to watch. This is one of those rare films that don't even need any dialogue, leaning back and just watching the colors proves to be sufficient enough. Not only is this movie made of wonderful pictures and colors that is eye candy in itself, it also contains a lot of emotions. It is like being on an emotional rollercoaster. One moment you are laughing with mirth at a crude joke and the next you are gasping in shock at a dark and scary scene. Tragic, sad moments prove to be tear jerkers in a way only a cartoon can make one feel, but the darkness is mirrored by light and funny moments that give this film a lot of charisma.

The music accompanying the film and especially the part where the fairy child sings, "You must go where I can not," is absolutely enchanting. This is a whole new level of animation, and I am positively surprised since I am usually a little skeptical about the amount of emotion an animated movie can bring across - I am completely blown away, and anyone who is in the mood to watch a beautiful, well drawn, imaginative and fascinating movie with just the right amount of comedy and tradgedy, should watch it. The creative artist, director and all the people voicing the characters in this film deserve more than a round of applause. This proves that animation can deliver a whole new perspective on life in its most precious form.

I love these reviews from Berlin because hey are written by young people who are the actual target audience!

This is a video interview with me from the Paris promo trip, I was asked to speak in Irish at the end but got a bit muddled from thinking half in French and English all week!


  1. Hey Tom, Congratulations for the movie! Would you mind giving an e-mail adress so i can ask few questions?!

  2. I told you everyone would love it... now just to be contrary i am going to begin the slow creep towards finding faults with it... only kidney beaning it's gonna be grand all round forever now that this is out

  3. So pleased to see this warm reception. :)

  4. Kudos Tomm! Great to see the movie's receiving the critical acclaim you and your team deserve. Looking forward to sitting through it when the work dies down.

    All the best and congratulations!

  5. Congrats on all the well-deserved praise!

  6. Congratulation!
    This is fantastic Tomm!
    Looking forward to a private screening with you in March. ;)

  7. Wait! You're saying you hope you and Pixar will have plans in store for The Secret of Kells starting with a screening? Awesome!

  8. Woohoo congrats Tomm, your head must be spinning - does it finally feel worth all the stress? Just watched the quick clip from the film on the late late show, that was really cool!

  9. I watched The Secret of Kells yesterday (in French, at Namur's Cameo), and I have to admit that I was truly, deeply moved by the powerful storytelling and aesthetic prowess on display.

    I can't get my mind off it. As a graphic designer (although a bit of a modest one), I'm amazed by the fabulous renditions of the movie's sceneries, which manages to combine the best from both styles of middle-age illuminated manuscripts and modern-day cartoons. I couldn't help but feel a touch of Genndy Tartakovsky in the way the characters and the erratic scaffolds found in many of Kells' backdrops were drawn. It's amazing how well both styles work together.

    Also, I have to applaud the magnificent selection of music. Aisling's song brought me to tears.

    You've given the world of animation a precious gift, which I hope will not only serve to amuse children and adults alike, but also provide an ideal example of old-made-new, an inspiration for artists and designers.

    I will definitely recommend this movie to everyone around me.

    Thank you!

  10. Hey, this is Stella Woeste, writing from Berlin. I was surprised to find myself - and thus, my film review for the Secret of Kells on your blog. Positivly surprised, actually. Thanks very much and I am glad that you received a positive reception to that wonderful movie. I also wanted to know, whether the movie will be appearing on DVD anytime soon?

  11. Wow, I just came across this merely by accident (or rather by googling my own name) and am surprised at finding my own review from the JUnge Journalisten on here. I feel quite honored to have my film critic on here, as the Secret of Kells was one of my favorite of the Kplus films in this years' Berlinale.
    I would also be interested to know whether the movie will be appearing on DVD anytime soon?
    Thanks again for the terrific movie, but my enthusiasm over it can be read above anyway.