Tuesday, October 5, 2010


Distributor: GKIDS
Release Date: March 5, 2010
Genre: Animation
Running Time: 75 minutes
MPAA Rating: Unrated

When the Oscar nominations were announced last year, the biggest shock came in the Best Animated Film Category. Expected nominees “Coraline,” “Fantastic Mr. Fox,” “The Princess and the Frog,” and “Up” all had their names called, as did “The Secret of Kells.”

Wait, the Secret of What? The French / Belgian / Irish movie wasn’t even released in the United States until March 5 (making almost $40,000 on one screen, and it never made it to more than 37), two days before the Oscar ceremony. So this proves that the animation branch actually watches their screeners and sees all of the eligible films, and their nomination made it possible for theaters like Film Streams at the Ruth Sokolof Theater, where I saw it, to play this terrific little film.

The film takes place in the ninth century, where Viking leader Abbot Cellach (the inimitable Brendan Gleeson) is trying to build a wall around his village to keep everyone safe from attacks. Cellach is in charge of his nephew Brendan (Evan McGuire), who is forbidden to enter the forest around the village.

Meanwhile, Brother Aidan shows up in town to work on the Book of Kells, a mystical creation that opens Brendan’s eyes and mind. Brother Aidan needs help with the book, and asks Brendan to get him a special kind of ink in the very forest that Cellach forbids Brendan from going into. Of course Brendan goes, and he gets in over his head. Luckily for him, a fairy named Aisling shows up to help him navigate his way around the creatures in the forest.

The story follows a fairly obvious arc and few surprises are to be found, but “Kells” is nothing short of stunning to look at. In the era of CGI, hand drawn animated films are becoming rarer and rarer. It was no match for “Up” at the Oscars, but this is one of those films where the nomination was the award.

Theater: The Ruth Sokolof Theater, Omaha, NE
Time: 415 pm
Date: May 19, 2010

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