My quest to see all the 2014 Oscar-nominated animated movies continues with:
Song of the Sea
Cartoon Saloon (and others)
Tomm Moore, director
Viewing Source: Local public library Blu-ray
I never had a chance to see Song of the Sea in theaters, as it wasn’t playing anywhere near me; I was worried about being able to find it on DVD as well, but luckily my local library is awesome and had already ordered it when it was released in March. It is by the same studio that did the wonderful Book of Kells, and with my upcoming trip to Ireland I was especially eager to see it (ironically, it won’t be released in Ireland until July).
The fantasy aspects of the movie are charmingly Irish, deriving from the island’s rich folklore. Legends of selkies and other supernatural beings are blended wonderfully with the modern world; my favorite bit was the fairies living in center of the roundabout.
The movie is one that will be enjoyed by all ages. Although it is explicitly a kids’ movie (and I would have loved it when I was younger), it touches on some pretty complex themes, like the purpose of mythology and what it means to be human.
I was impressed by the depth of the story, which functions on several levels. The most obvious is the straightforward plot of our protagonist Ben trying to save his younger sister Saoirse, which is part fantasy quest, part coming-of-age story.
But this movie is also the story of a mother trying to help her son grieve, which we see in the subtly parallel relationships between Ben’s father Conor and his mother (Ben’s granny), and the mythic sea god Mac Lir and his mother Macha. Granny and Macha are the main antagonists, but they hardly deserve the word, because while they may both be scary at times, the story makes it clear that their actions come from love and eventually they are open to changing their ways once they see that they are not actually helping their sons. The parallel between the relationships is never explicitly mentioned, only cleverly implied through the character designs and voice acting.
The movie’s animation is fairly basic, but the detail of the designs and the composition of the shots are absolutely gorgeous. It’s a very creative movie overall.
Added bonus: if you watch this movie, you will finally know how to pronounce “Saoirse.” Gotta love those Gaelic names 🙂