I've had The Secret of Kells on my Netflix queue for a year and I'm so happy and grateful I finally decided to watch it today. This independent animated film is an absolute treasure and I look forward to watching it many times over.
As the Netflix description explains, the film tells a fictional account of the creation of the Book of Gospels:
When Vikings attack an Irish abbey, the monks must stop work on the legendary Book of Kells and protect their home. So Brendan, the 12-year-old nephew of Abbott Cellach, is tasked with completing the magnificent work. Now, he must confront his most intense fears as he uses his illumination skills and braves the enchanted forest outside the abbey walls in this exhilarating, Oscar-nominated animated tale.
It truly was unlike any animated feature I've ever seen. Even though it had one or two musical numbers, there was a depth of feeling, especially of fear and and mortality, that set it distinctly apart from most animated films. And yet, it was brimful of magic and wonder. It was literally illuminated with it. The filmmakers blended perfectly the serious reality of defending the Abbey of Kells against the Vikings with the painstaking creation of the incredible art of the Latin gospel texts. And over all of this they brushed a patina of ancient Celtic art and homage to Celtic Pagan deities and myths. The result is absolutely ravishing.
The illustration style was careful and powerful, and drew its greatest strength from small movements and from an extraordinary sense of space and proportions. Just look at this series of stills from when the main character, Brendan, sets out for the forest, coming out from behind the abbey walls for the very first time in his life: