Song of the Sea – Review by Emily Elphinstone
Director: Tomm Moore
Writers: Will Collins (as William Collins) , Tomm Moore (story)
Stars: David Rawle, Brendan Gleeson, Lisa Hannigan
Following the incredible success of Academy Award Nominated ‘The Secret of Kells’; Director Tomm Moore, and the Cartoon Saloon return with the fantastical animation: ‘Song of the Sea.’
Once again taking inspiration from Irish folklore, ‘Song of the Sea’ tells the story of Ben (voiced by the wonderful David Rawle), and his little sister Saoirse, who live in a remote lighthouse with their widower father Conor (Brendan Gleeson).
Saoirse is at first greeted as the bane of Ben’s life. He blames her for the loss of their mother, and resents having to look after her. But when the children are taken to the city by their Granny, having to escape and make the long journey home; it becomes clear that Saoirse is more than she seems. She is, in fact, a Selkie: a mythical creature who is human on land, and seal in the water. Suddenly Ben finds new reason to love and protect her, and as they encounter faeries, owls, and the terrifying Macha; the songs and stories he learned from his mother become suddenly more relevant.
In an increasingly computer-heavy era, it’s refreshing that Cartoon Saloon use more traditional techniques of animation; and ‘Song of the Sea’ is visually stunning from beginning to end. You can see the craftsmanship in each textured watercolour sky and twinkling light; which are emphasised by the brilliant soundtrack composed by Bruno Coulais, and performed with Kila and Lisa Hannigan.
Like the timeless mythology the film is based on, ‘Song of the Sea’ is a true epic. With a meandering pace, which enjoys the beauty rather than hurrying the story along, it can feel slow at times. However, there is enough in this magical tale to keep all the senses engaged to the very end.