In Memoriam 1942 – 2013 “Roger Ebert loved movies.”

RogerEbert.com

Thumb_6svpck54r9k0mz9xcfzswrxcin

Winter Sleep

The running time of his new picture Winter Sleep, three hours and change, suggests weight, but at it happens, this movie struck me as both…

Thumb_oax1ohn3ltgrf3vlh5ff28w0yjn

Mr. Turner

Filmmaker Mike Leigh's biography of the landscape painter J.M.W. Turner is what critics call "austere"—which means it's slow and grim and deliberately hard to love—yet…

Other Reviews
Review Archives
Thumb_xbepftvyieurxopaxyzgtgtkwgw

Ballad of Narayama

"The Ballad of Narayama" is a Japanese film of great beauty and elegant artifice, telling a story of startling cruelty. What a space it opens…

Thumb_jrluxpegcv11ostmz1fqha1bkxq

Monsieur Hire

Patrice Leconte's "Monsieur Hire" is a tragedy about loneliness and erotomania, told about two solitary people who have nothing else in common. It involves a…

Other Reviews
Great Movie Archives
Other Articles
Channel Archives
Primary_dtsok_cover_treated

Comic-Con 2014: Cartoon Saloon

One of the longer lines at the San Diego Comic-Con’s Artists Alley was for the book signing by the Paul Young and Tomm Moore, the founders of the Kilkenny-based Irish Animation Studio Cartoon Saloon for the new book, "Designing The Secret of Kells." I wasn’t able to catch any of the three book signings or the Friday sneak peek panel for the studio’s new animated feature, "Song of the Sea," but I did attend a similar event at the International Animated Film Society, ASIFA-Hollywood on Tuesday, July 29, 2014.

The Academy Award nominated "The Secret of Kells" was a 2D animation that celebrated its two-dimensions. The lines and abstract decorations gave these two-dimensional characters more depth than some live action roles played by humans. The designs ignore Renaissance rules of perspective and instead looked at the legacy of the illuminated illustrations for the Christian Gospels dating back to 800 A.D. in the "Book of Kells." The real "Book of Kells" is housed at Trinity College in Dublin.

"Song of the Sea" has no relation to the Shirat HaYam poem that appears in the Book of Exodus or to the 1952 Brazilian film "O Canto do Mar." Cartoon Saloon's "Song of the Sea" draws on an experience director Tomm Moore had long ago. Moore described walking on the seashore where he noticed the carcasses of many seals. When he inquired about the seals he learned local fishermen were killing them out of frustration, blaming the seals for the low numbers of fish. One local commented that this would have never happened long ago when the fishermen believed in Selkies.

Selkies are water spirits in Irish, Scottish and Faroese folklore. They were the souls of those lost at sea or humans who have returned to the sea, Moore said during the panel discussion. According to folklore, they can turn into very handsome men and beautiful women on land. If a man wishes to keep a Selkie for his wife, he keeps her coat and then she can never return to the sea.

In "Song of the Sea," the mother has taken care to teach her son, Ben, the songs of her youth, but she dies before she can teach them to her daughter, Saoirse. Sent to the city to be cared for by their grandparents, Ben and Saoirse escape and wander back through the Irish countryside toward their home. On the way, they meet mythical creatures including three who will turn to stone unless Saoirse is able to sing the Selkie song of the sea while wearing her Selkie coat.

The sibling rivalry between Ben and the mostly silent Saoirse also comes into play as they both look for ways to remember and honor their family and their heritage. Like "The Secret of Kells," "Song of the Sea" also has a distinctive style despite being the product of seven years of development between four different studio partners in four different countries (Ireland, France, Belgium and Denmark).

Moore and Young explained that they learned from "Kells" the necessity of developing their story fully and testing it on school children before beginning the animation process. With "Song of the Sea," they wanted to contrast life in the city with the countryside and yet  the world of the children's family is, much like in the 1939 movie "The Wizard of Oz," echoed in the fairy world. They found inspiration in the TV miniseries "Into the West," Hayao Miyazaki's "My Neighbor Totoro," and the Disney classic "The Jungle Book."

An American release date for "Song of the Sea" hasn't been established yet, but you can keep updated on the progress of "Song of the Sea" by following the director's blog or by following Cartoon Saloon (@CartoonSaloon), Tomm Moore (@TommMoore) or Paul Young (@PaulYoung99) on Twitter.

Popular Blog Posts

Who do you read? Good Roger, or Bad Roger?

This message came to me from a reader named Peter Svensland. He and a fr...

The Ten Best Films of 2014

The ten best films of 2014, as chosen by the film critics of RogerEbert.com.

10 Underrated Female Performances of 2014

Ten underrated female performances from 2014 worthy of Oscar consideration.

More on That Later: The Truth About “Serial”

Some thoughts on the hit podcast "Serial".

Reveal Comments
comments powered by Disqus