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Animated feature 'The Secret of Kells' to screen

RELEASED: Oct. 1, 2010

The Secret of Kells imageEAU CLAIRE — Magic, fantasy and Celtic mythology come together in a riot of color in "The Secret of Kells" (2009), an Oscar-nominated animated feature screening Oct. 14-17 at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire. "A dazzling, not to mention utterly charming, hand-drawn fable" (Salon), the film will be presented at 6 and 8:30 p.m. in Davies Theatre.

"In these boom times for 3-D moviemaking, 'The Secret of Kells' is flat and proud of it," wrote the San Francisco Chronicle. "Its hand-drawn, two-dimensional animation springs to life with color and meticulous technique, filigreed and curlicued like the luminous book at its center."

The Secret of Kells imageYoung Brendan (voiced by Evan McGuire) lives in a remote medieval outpost under siege from barbarian raids. He is hard at work with his uncle (Brendan Gleeson), helping to strengthen the abbey walls as protection against the Vikings. But a new life of adventure begins with the arrival of Brother Aidan (Mick Lally), a master illuminator who initiates Brendan into the art of illumination, awakening his hidden, but extraordinary, talents. In order to finish the magnificent book, Brendan has to overcome his deepest fears on a quest that will take him into the enchanted forest where dangerous mythical creatures hide. There he meets the forest sprite Aisling (Christen Mooney), a mysterious young white wolf-girl, who will become his closest friend and helper. But with the Norsemen closing in, will Brendan's determination and artistic vision illuminate the darkness and show that enlightenment is the best fortification against evil?

The Village Voice called the film a "gorgeously mounted tale of enlightenment through art and courage. If 'The Secret of Kells' — directed by Tomm Moore and Nora Twomey, along with fleets of animators in Ireland, Belgium and France — is full of reverence for the power of books, it's also intoxicated with the possibilities of color, shapes, and patterns, most of them derived from nature. Influenced by medieval art and the actual Book of Kells (an illustrated manuscript containing the Four Gospels), the characters and landscape are hand-drawn, with help from a computer for the three-dimensional action sequences, forming an exquisitely etched riot of color that evokes the rapturous, gaudy abandon of Klimt. Flowery meadows, wafting dandelion clocks, packs of baying wolves — all are grist for the film's palette of beauty."

Although the 75-minute film is not rated, Salon film critic Andrew O'Hehir wrote that it "should enthrall children older than 8 or so, along with the adults lucky enough to watch with them."

"The Secret of Kells" will be presented by the International Film Society. Admission is free at the door with a Blugold Card or IFS membership. Community members who wish to attend campus films must purchase an annual IFS membership at the Service Center (715-836-3727) in Davies Center's east lobby. An individual membership costs $4; a family membership costs $10.

More information about the campus film series is available online and at the Activities and Programs office, Davies Center 133.

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JS/DW

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