My friends, writer Lu Hersey and her agent Ben Illis, alerted me to a new film from Tomm Moore and Cartoon Studio. They know how much I love the sea – and how passionate I am about selkies!
I glanced at the trailer and saw how beautiful it was. I knew I would absolutely have to see it. I was quite prepared to go to Brighton from The Witterings but happily, it was shown at Chichester’s splendidly independent New Park Cinema.
It’s a lovely little place where you can go see ‘The Red Shoes’ on a damp Sunday afternoon. This particular Monday was drizzly too – but it didn’t deter me.
Previously, I had been enchanted by Tomm Moore’s 2009 ‘The Secret of Kells’. I’ve loved both Irish mythology and Celtic illumination as long as I can remember. The film is luscious, stylised and well worth a watch.
However, ‘Song of the Sea’ is even better! Not only is it extraordinarily beautiful but deeply involving for anyone with imagination, whatever their age.
The setting is a ‘now’ where mythological creatures, buses and earphones co-exist. It has that credible magical realism of David Almond – full of the ordinary and the lyrical – and is utterly, utterly Irish. There’s also a proper plot: a quest adventure involving the oddest supernatural beings, family humour and peril. Characters include a brave brother, a distraught father and an interfering gran – not to mention a big wuffly dog, Cu.
It is entirely suitable for its young audience. Do take any child you know might like it.
But there’s more – a deeper strand of dealing with distressing emotions which will speak to many adults as well, and leave echoes long afterwards. The beauty of the art takes you in and leaves you open to depth of its meaning – if you let it. You may well need tissues.
It won’t get the distribution of a Disney. It won’t have merchandise and mass market appeal. But it is one of the best films I have ever seen – on its own terms.
And that inspires me. I yearn to write something with both a lively story and depth. I seek to create beautiful worlds full of engaging characters and action. I have to use particular places soaked in folklore. I accept my work won’t be high concept, mainstream or probably widely distributed. But I so want it to be true to itself.
Anyone want a different selkie story?