Friday, June 11, 2010

answer to Robert T

Robert left a message on the last post, and I thought I'd try and answer it if I can -
Robert wrote a very thoughtful review not long ago which I posted here.
He seemed very sensitive to all the subtle textures and depths we hoped had been layered in over the years of development which of course is very gratifying for us as filmmakers.

"Hi, Tomm, I have a question here and I mean no offense. But since the subject has been brought up by Mr. DiGiovanna, about the deeper appreciation of adults and kids coming from the same source, I'm wondering if there's another special reason why Brendan's image appears on the Chi Rho iconograph. To be honest, I initially thought that scene to be a form of defacement, albeit a mild one. I had put this interpretation behind when others took its place. It was my recent noticing of something strange about the Abbey which brought it up again."

The idea behind placing Brendan in the Chi-Rho page was a response to some people feeling unsatisfied by the ending on the Chi Rho page, I understood their concerns and we had an early storyboard and script draft that returned to the abbots room after the Chi rho sequence and tried to wrap up the story and characters. This was always unsatisfying and seemed like an epilogue , the story is over with the completion of the Chi Rho page and all it symbolizes for our characters and for history.
We could see that it would only be a design and story "anti climax" to continue the story after that final sequence, and felt it was the Abbot Cellach's death sequence, who could be argued is in fact in some ways the hero of the story, his redemption, his glimpse of eternity in the Chi Rho page. The chance to reprise the main characters in the details of the real Chi Rho page was there,
Brendan growing from boy to man is seen in the way a stylized Brendan transforms into the human head at the center of the real page, Aisling is remembered in the flowers that bloom when a mist passes over them and we see Pangur in the cats that are present on the actual page too. Initially we planned to have Aidan and Cellach unified in the image of the two angels holding the book between elsewhere on the Chi Rho page, but it felt too labored and we left it out in the end.

I hope that answers your question sir!

1 comment:

  1. Thank you, Tomm. Bah! No "sir" title for me, please. I'm not even that old. :)

    What follows below is the thought behind my earlier comment. I apologise for any inadvertent offence: Regarding the Chi Rho comment, I thought the image of Brendan was perhaps a religious statement. Certainly, the Abbey of Kells looked... well, it didn't look exactly Catholic. Had it not been for the presence of votive candles, I would say that it was rather Protestantish in representation, making it anachronistic. As I remember, certain figures of saints were etched on the table inside the Scriptorium; but not a trace of them may be seen inside the Abbey.

    This is, of course, a sensitive issue. Saints are venerated people and certainly, they are not called saints in vain. Despite the syncretic nature of the film, I thought it would be improper and disrespectful to have them cut off or burned down (at least visually) like the statues in the mound. I wasn't so sure about this. Their exclusion must have been done out of respect.

    The image of Brendan appearing on the Chi Rho page seemed to point to the answer. I thought it was a necessary recap to the open-ended question of the missing saints. A very gentle reminder of how we superimpose our human selves to the concept of God (without raising the ire of what The Book of Kells and religion signify to many people). I see this superimposition in many forms across all religious cultures, even in those that do not venerate images.


    You know, when I wrote that review back at Roger Ebert's site, I was actually pressed for time. It was done during the Lunar New Year holiday, of which we had a whole week's holiday of free time. However, the weather was bad the whole week, I was cooped up inside the house with nowhere to go and nothing to do; except put myself to the task. I was pressed for time because I know nothing of the Irish culture, or what I was writing about. At best, the review turned out to be amateurish, certainly not up to the standards of the Foreign Correspondents. And oh, the last time I wrote a paper, it was like... seventy years ago! Anyway, I don't think I would ever become gaga again for any film. Brendan and the Secret of Kells was certainly one of a kind experience.

    Btw, your mention of the Abbott's deathbed brings back something humorous and touching. I was supposed to include this link along with my review, but couldn't find the exact scene picture in the web to include it with. Better late than early :)

    Thanks for giving us a marvelous film experience.

    Best regards to the Cartoon Saloon crew,