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Song of the Sea

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The next film from Tomm Moore doesn't have a release date yet, it seems. And the official blog for it isn't open yet. But there's a teaser out there (and apparently has been for a whole year.)

I can't wait. I've seen The Secret of Kells twice and can't wait to see it again.

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Attica   

This studio is masterful at creating unique and exquisite background designs. If nothing else this film will be a pleasure to look at.

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Attica   

I had looked for this thread to post that, but couldn't find it.

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My friend Ken Priebe, the guy who literally wrote the book on stop-animation, and who is also a big fan of The Secret of Kells, saw it in Vancouver and calls it "a masterpiece."

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I can say more after it plays at AFI, but let me just suggest that Cartoon Saloon could be the next Studio Ghibli.

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Attica   

I can say more after it plays at AFI, but let me just suggest that Cartoon Saloon could be the next Studio Ghibli.

 

I often love elements of Studio Ghibli's storytelling, and their background designs are usually pretty nifty, but I generally find their character designs and the actual character animation to be somewhat under par (compared to many other animated features, including those from Cartoon Saloon and Sylvain Chomet.)

 

I found the Secret of Kell's to be superior to Studio Ghibli in both the designs and character animation, although not fully giving us some of the cleverness of Studio Ghibli's storytelling and especially some of the gentle, tender and quiet moments that Studio Ghibli excels at.

 

From the the trailers I already fully expect that the designs and animation in Song of the Sea will be amazing.  If they could truly pull of some of these other elements to the degree that Studio Ghibli does, then I see no reason why this film couldn't surpass them.

 

Of course, they would then have a long way to go to in keeping this up over continued projects, in order to stand beside Studio Ghibli in the long haul.

Edited by Attica

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StephenM   

I just saw this last night in Chicago.  Absolutely beautiful.  It does maybe go on too long by the end, and the adult characters could do with some fleshing out, but those are small quibbles.  This is a wonderful movie that, like Secret of Kells, endeavors to bring the history and folklore of Ireland alive for Irish children--and children everywhere.  It is an act of preservation that wants to awaken a child's senses of wonder, imagination, and memory, and I believe it succeeds admirably at this noble goal.

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This is out now on DVD/Blu-Ray/Download places.

Saw this in theatres today. Very glad to have caught it before it's gone. I don't have much to add other than to Echo everything that has been said: masterpiece, beautiful, WONDERful. The music is particularly lovely, and it fits every scene SO well! This was a treat from start to finish. Would probably top my 2014 list, partly because of my ability to give an unqualified recommendation to anyone who asks.

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SDG   

My review, in which I compare and contrast Song of the Sea artistically and narratively with The Secret of Kells, as well as exploring its kinship to Miyazaki. 

 

The world of the movie’s adapted mythology — like the unseen world in a Hayao Miyazaki film like “My Neighbor Totoro” or “Spirited Away” — stands matter-of-factly alongside the everyday world; Moore depicts the cultural legacy of Catholic piety and pagan imagination, like shrines in a Miyazaki film, as simply part of the landscape, much like grazing cows, electricity pylons (or transmission towers), or a statue of Molly Malone.

 
The Miyazaki influence goes deeper; Studio Ghibli fans may at turns be reminded of “Ponyo” as well as “Totoro” and “Spirited Away.” (Some may also be reminded of the latest from Miyazaki’s partner Isao Takahata, the much-acclaimed “The Tale of Princess Kaguya.” For what it’s worth, I prefer “Song of the Sea.”) Moore has also cited “The Jungle Book” and Mike Newell’s “Into the West” as influences, but I keep coming back to Miyazaki…
 

Key to the film’s potent spell is its unrushed pace and relatively low-key tone. Virtually all contemporary Hollywood animated films, even better ones like “The Lego Movie” and “Big Hero 6,” maintain a frenetic, propulsive narrative momentum, with nonstop dialog and banter and constant action of one kind or another.
 
Like Miyazaki, Moore isn’t afraid to take the time to breathe deeply, savor moments of silence and beauty, and open the door to wonder and mystery. In the last decade or more, with the exception of Pixar’s luminous “Wall-E,” I can’t think of any Hollywood cartoons about which I could say the same.

 

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SDG   

Fascinating combox response to my review at Crux
 

As a non-Catholic, I'm not familiar with the finer points of certain doctrines, such as prayers for those in purgatory. However, between this and "Secret of Kells," it seems likely to me that Moore is a Catholic - or, at least, thoughtfully incorporates Catholicism into his filmmaking - and as such, I'm curious as to whether or not you see any connection between the "song of the sea" and prayers for the dead.

In particular, that beautiful final scene, wherein Saoirse's singing sends the fairies "home" beyond the sea (i.e., beyond death, if we apply the film's symbolism), seems to resonate with the idea of praying for the souls of the departed. Thoughts?

 
My response: 
 

That's a really interesting line of thought, Clark.

I've seen nothing so far to indicate that Moore is actually Catholic, but certainly he seems to be interested in Ireland's Catholic and mythic heritage in at least the way that Miyazaki is interested in Japan's spiritual heritage.
 
What makes your thoughts even more interesting is the way it ties into the symbolism of Ben losing his mother when Saoirse is born.
 
(Warning: Major spoilers follow.)
 

Some of my kids were confused when Ben and Saoirse's mother reappears at the end and seems about to leave without a word before Ben calls out to her.


 
My take on this is as follows: On the level of the film's mythology, I suppose that, as a selkie married to a human, Bronagh might have children that were either human or selkie. Ben was human, so there was no trouble. But Saoirse was selkie, and as I see it, Bronagh had to go back to the ocean to give birth to her—but once she went back, she couldn't return again. One round trip is all you get, I guess.
 
Suz says it seemed like, having become a seal again, Bronagh forgot her husband and son until Ben called out to his mother on the cliff. I don't have a problem with that, but I think we need to add something:
 
Ben thinks all along that his mother died giving birth to Saoirse—and in a way he isn't wrong. Metaphorically, Bronagh did die, in the sense that she left the human world and can't return. (The whole selkie myth is connected with people who are drowned at sea anyway.)
 
So I think Saoirse's song frees her mother to move on as well as the rest of the fair folk trapped in the…I'm going to have to say "limbo" rather than purgatory of Macha's spell.
 
Here the attempt to read the film's symbolism in terms of Catholic teaching can't be pushed too far: The fair folk aren't trapped by their own faults or unfinished business, but by a spell that was kindly in intention but cruel in effect, and the time of their exile hasn't served to improve their condition or lead to any inner liberation. (This contrasts with more persuasive purgatory-symbolism in other movies, such as The Sixth Sense.)


Nevertheless, the general idea that solicitous actions of the living can aid the departed to arrive at their final destination does seem to find some traction.

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Attica   

Picked up the Blu-Ray the other day.  Good Lord.  This film is incredible.  This is the kind of reason that I became interested in film, and I'm delighted to see a 2D film that is so masterful.

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Picked up the Blu-Ray the other day.  Good Lord.  This film is incredible.  This is the kind of reason that I became interested in film, and I'm delighted to see a 2D film that is so masterful.

 

Have you seen The Secret of Kells? I much prefer it to Song of the Sea, but yeah, they're both in a league of their own.

Edited by Overstreet

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Attica   

Yep.  I own it as well.  I'm pretty high on Song of the Sea because it so fresh, so I'm not sure if I can rightly say which I prefer at the moment.   I do think that they are in a league of their own.  

 

FWIW.  I think that some of the actual character animation in Song of the Sea is a bit of a step up from Kell's, but that's not directly related to the story.

 

I like these guys films (so far) better than studio Ghibli's films.  Those films have some **great** moments in them, but I think this studios two films are working better as a whole.  They also have some better character animation (although studio Ghibli's effects animation is very impressive) and more inventive designs.  Studio Ghibli has some fantastic artwork, to be sure, but it's mostly similar to other Japanese animation, especially with the characters.

 

These guys are doing their own thing in just about every way, and this connected to their rich Celtic heritage.  Indeed their films are "rich."  

 

Film's like this just might help turn the tide for Hollywood to move back towards making good 2D films.  I think I've mentioned this here before, but I teach a short animation course at our local art gallery.  The students inevitably enjoy 2D films like this (or even some very artsy 2D shorts) better than most 3D Hollywood films.  It could be because those kids are more artistically inclined in order to want to be there, but I also think that it is indicitive of something.  People would go and see films like this on the big screen, if it was there and marketed to them to the degree that those big 3D films are.  There's just a lot of people that don't know.

Edited by Attica

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SDG   

Have you seen The Secret of Kells? I much prefer it to Song of the Sea, but yeah, they're both in a league of their own.

That's a little disappointing to me, but not surprising. I don't think you ever shared my reservations about Kells, which haven't diminished over time.

And there are three ways I admit Kells outshines Song:

  1. Aisling > Saoirse.
  2. Aisling's Pangur Ban song > any of the music in Song.
  3. Song has nothing like Brendan's 2D battle with Crom Cruach.

And yet...and yet despite these highs, Kells leaves me unsatisfied in fundamental ways.

Abbot Cellach is a boringly stern, authoritarian figure to whose views no concession at all is made. Not only does the wall fail, it doesn't even slow down the Northmen long enough to allow Cellach to get into the scriptorium and avoid being shot.

Brother Aidan is more winsome, but his idea about evil (i.e., it's too strong, run away and hope you're fast enough) is hardly more inspiring. Neither strategy proves sufficient. The impotence of the book that "turns darkness into light" against the evil of the Norsemen is as anticlimactic as the uselessness of Cellach's wall.

Kells builds up to a transcendent climax that never quite arrives, at least on a narrative level. The visual power of the denouement is as vital to the film's success as the iconic denouement of Andrei Rublev (wow, there's a comparison), but Andrei Rublev's narrative framework offers an interpretive context in which the transcendence of the finale is illuminated. Kells doesn't, leaving the ending unsatisfying to me.

Song gives me the transcendent finale I wanted. I find Song's meditations on death, grief and the enduring presence of our lost loved ones (see my spoiler-hidden comments above) more successful than Kells' intriguing attempts to reflect on the transcendent power of art.

 

I like these guys films (so far) better than studio Ghibli's films.  Those films have some **great** moments in them, but I think this studios two films are working better as a whole.  They also have some better character animation (although studio Ghibli's effects animation is very impressive) and more inventive designs.  Studio Ghibli has some fantastic artwork, to be sure, but it's mostly similar to other Japanese animation, especially with the characters.

Heh. I'm pretty sure there's not a syllable here I agree with. smile.png (Well, except for "although studio Ghibli's effects animation is very impressive" and "Studio Ghibli has some fantastic artwork.")

Edited by SDG

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