By T.K. Wilson (Rated G)
The Secret of Kells is a fictional account of the completion of the Book of Kells, one of the finest early illuminated Bibles in existence. Young Brendan is an aspiring artist living with his uncle Abbot Cellach at the monastery of Kells. Cellach wants nothing more than to protect Brendan and his beloved Abbey and to that end spends all his time building a wall to keep the Vikings out, and is very strict with Brendan because he doesn’t understand how to properly deal with him.
When master illuminator Aiden of Iona arrives with the Book, he sees Brendan’s talents and recruits him as his apprentice, much to Callach’s displeasure. Aiden sends Brendan into the forest (a place his uUncle has forbidden) for ink ingredients where he meets a faerie named Aisling, who becomes his friend. When Aiden finds he dropped a crystal that was once the eye of the evil god Crom-Cruach, essential to helping him finish the Book, Brendan and Aisling set out to find another. But when Brendan returns victorious the Vikings are upon them. Can Cellach’s wall save Kells? Can Brendan and Aiden save the Book?
While not as explicitly Christian as most Christian reviews would like, The Secret of Kells is full of Christian imagery, especially once you consider that the Book of Kells is a Bible. In Aisling’s opening narration she states that she knows that the Book (the Bible) “Can turn the darkness into light.” Aiden repeats this phrase when describing what the Chi-Rho page from the Book will be like; this is significant because Chi and Rho are the first Greek letters of Christ’s name, the one name that does turn Darkness into Light. In winning the crystal Eye of Crom, Brendan symbolizes the defeat of paganism, because without his eye, Crom destroys himself.
Both Aiden and Cellach are wrong in dealing with Brendan, with Aiden encouraging disobedience and Cellach squashing Brendan’s dreams and talents, but both men see the errors of their ways in the end. Other problems include scary scenes featuring the Viking attack on Kells, Aisling’s apparent death at the hands of Crom, and Brendan’s battle with Crom.
With everything considered, The Secret of Kells is a great movie. The animation is simply amazing with very little CGI. That’s right folks, this is a hand animated movie. Despite the regrettable plot point over the disobedience, the Secret of Kells is suitable for kids 10 and up. Full of wonder, color, and light, The Secret of Kells presents a lush story world with many redemptive themes suitable for kids and delightful for parents. Two thumbs up!
Image courtesy of Cartoon Saloon et al