In pop culture our first encounter with mythology often stems from the pantheons of the Greek and Norse religions. With Thor and Loki being critical components in arguably the largest cinematic universe in current history, and the Greek gods portrayed in hundreds of movies from Clash of The Titans to the revered Disney classic Hercules. With this overflow of popular mythologies, it is easy to forget the plethora of wonderful folklore and traditional tales from other cultures. Song of the Sea is a wonderful depiction of the Celtic mythos, following the story of the Selkie or ‘sea folk’.
Song of the Sea was nominated for the Academy Awards best-animated film in 2014 and it's clear to see why, since then it has yet to find a mainstream appeal, instead remaining a hidden gem. First and foremost, the film is simply stunning, if I could end the review there I would. Its distinct visual style is like nothing I have seen in an animated motion picture, taking its inspiration from the artistry of Celtic tradition it includes beautiful woven tapestries transformed into scenic highlands, runic stone carvings portraying the seas and lochs, and picturesque stained glass windows emanating a vibrancy of colour and enchantment. Each shot is thoughtfully crafted and could easily mount the walls of an archaic Irish castle. This fragmented artistic style lends itself to the idea of a folk tale passed down through generations being documented through history, it’s truly innovative and a joy to watch.
The plot is nothing special in terms of narrative, it serves its purpose as a simple adventure, one about a young boy saving his sister. The Celtic mythology does give a refreshing amount of content, and it becomes a welcome addition as the traditional Irish legends about the Selkies, Mac Lir, and Macha are not well documented in pop culture. You come for the whimsical characters, not necessarily the plot. In my opinion this doesn’t hinder the movie, instead it’s easy to follow and works perfectly as a canvas for the wonderful visuals to shine. The relaxed nature of the plot allows you to immerse yourself within a world that has been so marvelously dreamt up by Tomm Moore.
The power of a song is a prevalent theme within the movie, it comes with no surprise that a film with such emphasis on music has such a spellbinding score. It's fast, melodic and makes you want to tap dance on the table of an old Irish pub. Classical Irish instruments like the bodhrán, fiddle, and Irish banjo are implemented as an homage to this movies ties with the legends of old.
Song of the sea is a charming tale and a treat on the eyes and ears. If you are a fan of mythology I couldn’t recommend this quaint little tale enough. It shines a light on the fascinating world of Celtic lore and its stunning artwork. Song of the sea is now available to watch on Amazon Prime.