The Secret of Kells was directed by Tom Moore and produced by Paul Young, Didier Brunner and Vivian van Fleteren. It was released by Cartoon Saloon. Originally, the animated movie was shown on February 8th, 2009 at the 59th Berlin International Film Festival. On the eleventh of February it was released in Belgium and France. It was even nominated for an award for the Academy Award for Best Animation Feature. In the United States the movie’s showing date moved up because of the light that was shown on it by the nomination. It was moved from March to April of 2010 in some cities.
The story itself of The Secret of Kells is based on the story behind the origin of the Book of Kells. It is an illuminated manuscript written in Latin and located in Dublin, Ireland. The book contains four gospels from the New Testament but the movie goes beyond just using things from Christianity. There is reference to things Pagan. For example, Cromm Cruach is a death deity that predates Christianity. The character of Aisling is also based off of a creature from myths that would appear to poets as dreams or seeresses. The movie is able to create an otherworldly feel through the use of mythology and its creative art style.
The Secret of Kells’ art style follows that of traditional Irish art. The style is very flat but detailed. The colors almost appear to be water color. The Secret of Kells was created through a mix of traditional 2-D animation along with modern techniques for compositing and animating. The decision to use a traditional Irish technique came from inspiration from other movies that are done in other culture’s traditional art styles. For example, Mulan or Miyuzaki’s films, Princess Manonoke and Spirited Away being a few examples. The characters are clearly influenced by the art style in the true Book of Kells. They are not pretty but they are unique, simplified versions of the type of art used.
The movie, being animated, may be mistaken for a child’s movie at first. The flat aesthetic used and the bright colors, and even the protagonist make it out to be so at first. The movie, with its dark turns and symbolism from religion take it a step further though and the movie becomes something for anyone to enjoy.