SVS: “The Secret of Kells”


The Secret of Kells is one of my favorite…

…no, wait. I’m going bigger than that. More confident. Let’s try again.


The Secret of Kells is one of the finest animated films in recent memory. Period. (It’s also the first film I watched in New York City. And by “first,” I mean “only.”)

Sprung from the fertile creative minds of Irish directorial duo Tomm Moore and Nora Twomey, it’s visually stunning, often charming, sometimes unsettling, and entirely unforgettable, displaying a grace and subtlety and a wonderful “blend of simplicity and elaboration” rarely found in contemporary animation. Or, at least, rarely found in works not attributable to a Miyazaki.  The hand-drawn style is disarmingly simple and beautiful, and perhaps not quite as simple as it seems — which is pretty much the perfect way to describe the story, as well. And don’t even get me started on the music.

It’s on NETFLIX INSTANT. And HULU PLUS. And if you’re willing to put up with a few commercials, it’s also available for FREE on HULU.

Watch it.

When Vikings attack an Irish abbey, the monks must stop work on the legendary Book of Kells and protect their home. So Brendan, the 12-year-old nephew of Abbott Cellach, is tasked with completing the magnificent work. Beautifully drawn and refreshingly calm, The Secret of Kells hearkens back to animation’s golden age with an enchanting tale inspired by Irish mythology.

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When you’re done, you can read this two-part conversation between Steven Greydanus and Jeffrey Overstreet, HERE and HERE. Oh, and keep an eye on Song of the Sea, Tomm Moore’s follow-up film, which just secured its US release. It’s about selkies, and therefore inherently awesome.

Kells2Attribution(s): All posters, publicity images, and movie stills are the property of GKids and all other respective production studios and film distributors, and are intended for editorial use only.

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About Joseph Susanka

Joseph has been doing development work for institutions of Catholic higher education since graduating from Thomas Aquinas College in 1999. A grateful resident of Wyoming, he spends his free time exploring the beautiful Wind River Mountains, keeping track of his (currently) seven sons, being amazed by his (currently) lone daughter, and thanking his lucky stars for Netflix.

  • John Paul Summers

    Really glad to see you tip your hat to Miyazaki, he’s one of the greatest story tellers to grace the theatre, and one of my wife’s favorites. I look very much forward to seeing secret of kells on your recommendation.

    • Joseph Susanka

      The upside to recommending films I love?

      Some folks will end up watching films I love because I asked ‘em to.

      The downside?

      They might not love them.

      The Critic’s Conundrum.