Saturday, 18 October 2014


The connection between the flourishing animated film culture in Japan to the fledgling one in Ireland may not be evident to all, but it's a connection that makes unexpected sense, despite the two nations being half a world away. Both are island nations at the edge of a continent - like many island nations, their culture on the whole is defined in no small part by the sea. Rural dwellers close to the shore live existences that are extensions of the water that faces them for as far as the eye can see in Tomm Moore's enchanting animation Song of the Sea. Moore makes full and sensitive use of Ireland's rich magical mythology, so well-developed by centuries of isolated living. The challenge when tackling material like this is to perfect the presentation; luckily, Moore and his art director Adrien Mericeau have a masterful aesthetic intuition, and Song of the Sea is, at times, an extraordinarily beautiful film, possibly even too beautiful to thoroughly digest all of its visual wonders in one sitting. The wealth of shades the employ to imbue their 2D images with vibrancy and character lend them a glowing quality that puts most expensive 3D animated designs from major American studios to utter shame. The stylistic reverence is apparent too, reinforcing the authenticity in Moore and writer Will Collins' concept. Moore has devised an elaborate window onto the natural world that exists within and beneath the increasingly-urbanised world we've attempted to create above it. His instinct to elucidate, visually, does render the film devoid of much mystery - the storytelling in Song of the Sea is rather prosaic as a result. But the magic remains, in glorious, wondrous beauty, allowing the film to rank among the finer features of recent years from those animation masters half a world away.