Writing the Book (of Kells)
I don’t do movie reviews, generally. By the time I get around to seeing most movies, you’ve already heard all about them and you already know if you want to see them. I just don’t get out to the movies often and when I do usually the movie’s been around for several weeks. (For example: Brave, which I want desperately so see? Haven’t seen it yet, unlikely to see it soon. Maybe this weekend if I’m lucky, but likely not.)
But I recently saw a movie and I thought maybe you hadn’t seen or heard much about this movie, and maybe you didn’t even know it existed. But the movie got under my skin and made a cozy home there, so I thought I should share it with you.
It’s a delightful animated movie called “The Secret of Kells“, and it follows the story of the young Brendan who lives in the Abbey of Kells in ancient, early-Christian Ireland. Brendan is the nephew of the Abbot of Kells, but he is entranced by stories of the mystical Book of Iona, an Illuminated Book of the Gospels, and of Brother Aiden, the master Illuminator who is working on the book. When Aiden arrives in Kells, his home on the island of Iona having been destroyed by Viking raiders, he enlists the aid of Brendan to finish his book. Brendan, in turn, takes aid from the a Fae from the forest named Aisling. (Although I heard it as “Ashley”.) Brendan must face Vikings and an evil serpent spirit to get the ingredients needed to make the brilliant and vibrantly-colored inks used in Illumination.
The movie has a distinctive animated style which draws heavily from the art of Illumination, ancient Irish designs and celtic knots, and classic simple animated forms. It was a beautiful movie in that regard.
The story was simple and yet profound. It reminded me of something. Despite being an original story – original to me, at least – it felt at once familiar. And the theme of this magical and important book resonated with me (and in particular it resonated with me together with the novel I’m currently reading, and I expect that resonance to make its way back into my own written work).
Dear Wife and I saw some pages from the real Book of Kells during our trip to Ireland a few years back (which culminated in a visit to Dublin, where we did a short tour of Trinity College, where they keep the Book). (I understood not being able to take pictures of the Book of Kells, but I deeply regretted not being able to take pictures of Trinity College Library. It was like something out of Harry Potter and it was pretty magnificent.)
A part of me wants to go into further about the way the movie has worked its way into my story inspiration process, but since it reflects on a work that is not a current WIP, I’m going to hold off on that for now.
Anyway, I wanted to bring the movie to your attention, if you hadn’t heard of it already, and offer my own approbation: if you get a chance, check it out. It shouldn’t be too hard, as I caught it on Netflix Streaming.