Song of the Sea – Movie Review
Director: Tomm Moore
Writers: Will Collins (as William Collins) , Tomm Moore (story)
Stars: David Rawle, Brendan Gleeson, Lisa Hannigan
With the news that Song of the Sea has won the ‘Best Irish Feature’ at the Galway Film Fleadh it has changed the way many will see the film. It has moved it from a mere children’s animation to something much more important.
Song of the Sea is the tale of a young boy and girl living in a Lighthouse in a remote Island off the coast of Ireland. They live with their father, who is grieving the loss of their mother, who disappeared from their lives one night. The little girl Saoirse has never spoken, but follows her big brother everywhere. When their grandmother arrives to celebrate the girl’s sixth birthday, she almost drowns after walking into the water and seemingly changing into a seal. The two children are taken to live in the town and leave their previous lives behind. They only remain a short time before deciding to return to the lighthouse, but they are chased by a variety of creatures from another realm who realise the little girl is not all she seems!
This is an original and captivating new animation from the same production house that brought us ‘The Secret of the Book of Kells’ (2009). This new work has already received much praise, and was nominated for an Oscar at last year’s Academy Awards, where it lost out to Big Hero 6. This is a film based in Irish folklore and music, with the soundtrack featuring Kila among others. The animation is not as slick as the average Disney/ Pixar adventure, but there was an obvious decision to focus on quality. A lot of the painted back drops are complex and quite beautiful, creating the woods, houses and towns through which the children travel.
This may be a tough viewing experience for smaller children, with some quite scary scenes. That said, animated adventures have a long tradition of scaring little people, with Bambi’s mother causing many tears through the years and there is certainly nothing that traumatic in this adventure. There are great characters all the way through this story, and some wonderful vocal talents to create the creatures from beyond. While it is Irish folklore, it is not the ones that were taught in school, so this will be new to most.
It is great to see a film of this obvious quality coming out of Ireland and there is enough in this film to keep the whole family entertained (no bored parents checking their phones every ten minutes!). A chance to teach your kids something of Irish culture and music, that they will also love! So where does it sit in the best Irish films of the last decade? Only time will tell, but I’d imagine it is top ten anyway.