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Arts & Life

Movie Review: 'Song Of The Sea'


We're going to take a breath now from the dark, breaking news this morning to consider a film that offers a world of charm. Six years ago an Irish director named Tomm Moore delighted the animation world with "The Secret Of Kells." Los Angeles Times and MORNING EDITION film critic Kenneth Turan has this look at his new film.

KENNETH TURAN, BYLINE: "Song Of The Sea" is a wonder to behold. It's a stunning example of hand-drawn animation, steeped in Irish myth, folklore and legend. Its gorgeous watercolor backgrounds so adroitly mix the magical and the everyday that to watch it is to be wholly immersed in an enchanted world. The story begins with a lighthouse keeper who lives on a remote island with his expectant wife and their young son, Ben. Without warning the wife dies in childbirth, but not before giving her son a special present.


UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: (As character) This is an ancient shell that my mother gave me a long time ago. Hold it to your ear and listen carefully. You will hear the song of the sea.

TURAN: Then it's six years later and Ben takes his loneliness out on his young sister, Saoirse, who reacts to this sibling teasing by refusing to speak a single word. But Saoirse, as it turns out, has a connection to the spirit world that exists parallel to our own. That world has a great need for her. It has a mission that she and only she can complete. In the meantime, a whole flotilla of lively and colorful supernatural folk appear in "Song Of The Sea," including energetic fairies, unpleasant elves, even a disconcerting witch called Macha, who has a confrontation with Ben.


FIONNULA FLANAGAN: (As Macha) You look wet and tired, human child.

DAVID RAWLE: (As Ben) Macha.

FLANAGAN: (As Macha) I am she.

RAWLE: (As Ben) Really - the old witch from the stories.

FLANAGAN: (As Macha) (Laughter) Well, no, those stories always paint me as the bad one, but I'm not so terrible. You know, I'm just trying to help everyone.

TURAN: One of the messages of this emotional film is the power of song to change worlds. So it's appropriate that "Song Of The Sea's" music is as pure a pleasure to listen to as this film is to watch. The day you choose to see "Song Of The Sea" is one you won't forget.


UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: (Singing) Between the (inaudible) between....

MONTAGNE: Kenneth Turan reviews films for the Los Angeles Times and MORNING EDITION. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.