Song of the Sea
Directed by Tomm Moore
The story of the last Seal Child’s journey home. After their mother’s disappearance, Ben and Saoirse are sent to live with Granny in the city. When they resolve to return to their home by the sea, their journey becomes a race against time as they are drawn into a world Ben knows only from his mother’s folktales. But this is no bedtime story; these fairy folk have been in our world far too long. It soon becomes clear to Ben that Saoirse is the key to their survival.
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★★★★½ review by Tasha Robinson on Letterboxd
A spectacularly beautiful, elaborately textured fable from the director of Book Of Kells, with all that film's visual flair, and even more of a sense of emotion and wonder. For fans of Into The West, The Secret Of Roan Inish, and other modern-day Irish fantasies, but also for fans of loving, detail-oriented animation. Segments of this play like the best Hayao Miyazaki movies, but with a unique and spectacular visual texture. A must-see.
★★★½ review by CinemaClown on Letterboxd
Nominated for Academy Award for Best Animated Feature, Song of the Sea is an irresistibly adorable, delightfully charming & undeniably magical cinema from the Irish animation studio Cartoon Saloon that's affectionately crafted, blissfully told & beautifully animated from start to finish and resonates an incredible amount of love, tenderness & warmth throughout its runtime.
Based on an ancient Celtic myth, Song of the Sea tells the story of Saoirse; a 6-year old girl living in a lighthouse with her father & brother who is also the last of the selkies; a mythological being who lives as a human on land & as a seal underwater. The plot covers her adventure as she escapes from her grandmother's home with her brother & travels to free the magical beings trapped in the human world.
Directed by Tomm Moore, Song of the Sea casts its spell from its opening moments for the entire story evokes a childlike sense of wonder & amazement, thanks to its highly innocent ambience, elegant camerawork, firm editing & intimate score. The traditional animation in itself is awe-inspiring plus the use of colours is so splendid that it provides an extremely rich texture n feel to the whole narrative.
On an overall scale, Song of the Sea is a polished work of art & animation that has its tale deeply rooted in the world of fairy tales. Sweet, heartwarming, poignant, virtuous & immensely cute, it may look like a simple story that's brought alive from the artwork of a children's fantasy novel yet packs in enough strength in the storytelling department to dazzle the grown-ups in a very unexpected manner. Don't miss it.
★★★★★ review by kyle97 on Letterboxd
An underseen gem of a film, Song of The Sea is just perfection! It's the kind of film that extends its arms to you and embraces you with all its warmth. Can't believe it lost the Animated-Feature Oscar to Big Hero 6. This or The Tale of Princess Kaguya would have been a more deserving winner.
It’s probably one of the most stunning, eye-popping animated features I’ve ever seen in my life, and I don’t just say that lightly! Tomm Moore conjures up breathtaking imagery that not only complements the story but also enriches it. The hand-drawn, watercolored animation truly makes for poetic visuals that encapsulate the wonder of an Irish folklore about selkies, on which the movie is based. Song of The Sea follows a story about a girl named Saoirse, who can turn into a seal, and her quest to free all the faeries from being turned into stones by Macha’s owls.
The movie reminded me of Spirited Away in the sense that it weaves fantasy into the fabric of reality in a seamless way, which helps enhance the mythical quality of the narrative. Through the glistening, phastasmagorical visuals dominated by vivid colors, Moore captures good vibes of the lush landscape of Ireland and celebrates the locals’ connection with the primitive world and nature that forms the basis for Irish myths. A good portion of the film takes place underwater and in the countryside. It’s such a breath of fresh air to see scenery devoid of the metallic air of the city.
More than anything, Song of The Sea is a story about family and love. The mythical elements in the movie provide a framework for Moore to develop a moving story about how a journey strengthens the bond between a brother and a sister. Because each character is so well-developed, you sympathize with all of them, even with the villain, whose motivations are clearly defined. The titular song is absolutely beautiful and soothing. Thank you Tomm Moore for this incredible movie!
★★★★★ review by Wesley R. Ball on Letterboxd
Sometimes the simplest things are the best.
Song of the Sea has a fairly simplistic and straightforward story, but some of the most jaw-droppingly gorgeous animation I've ever seen. In an age where mainstream animated films are computer animated, it's a nice change of scenery to see something as artistically liberating as this. The story and the art style feel like the Irish folk tale that it's supposed to be, and it has a beautiful soundtrack to boot. What astonished me most about this film, however, was how relatable I found it to be.
I have one sibling, a sister, who is three years younger than me. When we were younger, I didn't really mind her or pay a lot of attention to her, not out of jealousy, but because I just didn't feel that personal with her. As we got older, we got closer, and when our three cousins moved in with us, that was when we found our connection almost the strongest it had ever been. During thunder and lightning storms, my sister will still come down to my room and lay in bed with me, and even while I was away at college she would go down there and lie in my bed. I wasn't aware of it while I was down there, but during my time away I began to realize just how much my sister really meant to me. Being my only sibling also makes our own relationship a lot closer and stronger than it would be, and watching this film just reinvigorated that feeling within me.
Combining a heartfelt, but sometimes hollow dramatic story with Celtic mythological elements and gorgeous animation, Song of the Sea is one of the best, if not one of the most underrated, films of the year. There certainly is a specific audience for this film, and some people may find it devoid of any good story. Truthfully, the story can get a bit confusing or stray at times, but the overall film is simply masterful. It really moved me to tear up a little at how much I could relate to the protagonist, and now I can't wait to show this to my sister. She may not find it as great or personally relatable as I did, and she might not even want to watch it at all. But that doesn't change the fact that I saw our relationship flicker on the screen for a few shining moments. Perhaps not the whole film could relate to me, but there were definitely segments that completely blew me away. It's a gorgeously fantastic animation feat that cannot be topped in modern cinema. A remarkable and relatable achievement that could sadly go unnoticed by the general public.
★★★½ review by Mike D'Angelo on Letterboxd
Just as gorgeous as Secret of Kells, with a slightly stronger narrative (though it wasn't quite clear to me whether the mother got married and had kids solely for tactical purposes—that seems pretty grim for this tale, but her sudden abandonment is otherwise never explained). I'm a sucker for Moore's animation style, with its geometric precision and expressive curlicues; there are images here, like Macha's emotions represented as weather patterns enclosed in little vials, that made me literally chortle with delight. Didn't so much love the three "fairies" and their musical number, though, nor the reliance on verbal exposition. (There must be a middle ground between Miyazaki's randomness and Moore's over-explicitness. Somebody find it.) Bonus: I now know how to pronounce Saoirse Ronan's first name, which is spoken in this movie at least 100 times. It's roughly SEER-shuh.
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