Brendan is a 12-year-old boy living in the Abbey of Kells, which is ruled with an iron fist by his uncle, Abbot Cellach. The uncle is obsessed with building a wall around the abbey to protect it and nearby populations from attacks by Vikings, who are laying waste to the country. Brendan becomes friendly with Aidan, a refugee monk from the island of Iona and a brilliant illuminator who has managed to keep hold of his masterpiece and his cat, Pangur Bán. On a quest for the gall nuts that Aidan needs to make ink, Brendan defies the ban on going into the nearby woods and there he meets the ruler of the forest, Aisling.
Brendan and the Secret of Kells is, above all, a great adventure film. Its introduction is right up there with Peter Jackson's Lord of the Rings, with a whispered summary of the situation from the forest fairy (Aisling/Galadriel) immediately immersing us in the film. We hear about nature, magic, Viking invasions, pain and the healing herb; now we know what we are in for. The screenplay is very linear but that does not make it simplistic and it is full of detail. There is nothing gratuitous about the adventures, as each one, in its own way, conveys relevant historical or artistic information. The film also abounds with references to Irish culture and superbly shows Ireland's mix of legends and Celtic and Christian divinities. Still strikingly topical and anything but preachy, the film casts the power of beautiful art and writing against the weapons of these greedy and uncultivated hordes that live only for gold (any resemblance to actual persons etc. and so on). While the characters are monks who are scribes or illuminators and the Book of Kells is a religious tome, this is above all a story about the survival of artists dedicated absolutely to producing a work unlike any other. The film makes clever use of digital technology, very deftly combining it with traditional animation to achieve a highly original result. At times we are transported into the illuminated manuscripts, where no heed is paid to perspectives and proportions. The effect is visually delightful. The Secret of Kells invites us on a journey through time while enabling us to visit an eternal Ireland - the story is imagined but the beauty is truly deep. As we are gently ushered through a world of historical realism and almost frenetic dreaminess, we find ourselves feeling an urge to sign up immediately for Gaelic classes. Above all, though, this is a great adventure film.Read more Show less
Although the film can be watched by (slightly) younger children, viewers aged 8 and over will be better able to appreciate its feel and power. They will better grasp the issues and relish the suspense. Also, they will not be able to help feeling a thrill of excitement at the most terrible moments while also admiring the highly accomplished graphics. The Vikings are particularly well done (figures emerging from flames, preceded by ravens flying in formation) but while older viewers will love fearing and loathing them, younger ones might find these somewhat surly characters a little less pleasant.
For as long as people have been people, they have liked to tell stories: about heroes who defy gods, fantastic beings who inhabit rivers and forests (nymphs, selkies or tanuki) or angry gods who flood the earth. People have used cinema to continue telling these great stories. All kinds of metamorphosis, many-headed monsters, gigantic creatures, tiny humans and gods who hold them in their hands ... anything is possible in cinema! Each people tells their story in their own way. The films selected for this course give a little world tour encompassing universal stories, from the creation of the universe to adaptations of Greek myths. This course also provides an opportunity to discover a great name of the cinema: Ray Harryhausen, the brilliant special effects inventor ! This list was curated by Elodie Imbeau, education manager at the Cinémathèque Française.
I live in the world. But the world is, first and foremost, what happens in my backyard. I would like to invite you here. Whether I live in a city or the countryside, in a rich neighbourhood or a poor one, or in a peaceful country or a country at war, I did not choose to be born here but this is my world. It shapes me and defines me in ways I cannot know, so will I be able to get away from it to free myself? Will I want and need to? There are visible borders (such as a wall, an edge or an enclosure) and invisible ones (beliefs, culture, a real or imagined danger, what my parents think and the ideas they pass on to me, the way people look at me because I live here) between me and the world. This film course invites viewers to discover how cinema addresses the issue of where we live. Each film has its own way of living in the world.
["Cinema is the form of modern writing whose ink is light" - Jean Cocteau] Discover six films that plunge you into a fantasy world of pictures, including films that reference master painters and great works, or paintings from which you cannot escape and others you enter with glee, and films that are themselves animated paintings...