Song of the Sea

I was angry and disappointed when The Lego Movie failed to get even a nomination from The Academy Awards this past year, because it deserved to take home the trophy. In its place were a couple of movies no one had heard of, much less seen – Song of the Sea, and The Tale of the Box OfficePrincess Kaguya (alongside Big Hero 6, The Boxtrolls, and How To Train Your Dragon 2). Of those, I was glad that Big Hero got the Oscar, but this was an unusual category for me, in that I hadn’t actually seen all of the nominees. Those two unknowns were impossible to see in theatres (at least here in Ottawa – and I did try, combed VOD, the works). A while ago I noticed that Song of the Sea was available through Google Play, and I meant to get around to it, but wasn’t in much of a rush since I’d been harbouring festering resentment toward it since January.

The truth is, this is not the movie that took a slot away from our beloved Legos. This movie deserved to be there.

song-of-the-sea-2Now, before we get started, let me warn you, this isn’t for the faint of heart. It’s rated PG, for some mild peril, and pipe smoking images. Do you think you can handle that? If not, better go call your mother right now, get some guidance, talk it out, see if she thinks you’re up to it.

Once upon a time, a little boy is soothed by the stories told to him by his mother. She’s expecting a baby and he can’t wait to be its big brother. But then a baby appears but mama disappears. Through the magic of movies, a few years elapse, and big brother is quite resentful of his little sister, subconsciously blaming her for his mother’s death. Their father is deep in his grief and unable to care of his children, so his mother takes them away, against their wishes, with only mom’s conch shell to remind them of safe_imagehome. Turns out, that conch shell can summon magic when it’s blown by little sister, who is a selkie like her mama (a selkie being a girl who can turn into a seal when she wears her special coat). I’m making this sound more complicated than it is, because it’s actually a very simply told little Irish myth.

The animation is hand-drawn and absolutely stunning. I was impressed from word go and it never stopped, was never less than amazing. I’ve never seen a traffic circle look so ethereal. It Song_of_the_Sea_Embedmay lack the thousand digitally produced hairs, or 57 moving facial muscles, but their little faces remain quite expressive. Attention has been paid. The glowy, magical imagery makes you feel like you’re inside a Klimt painting, and there’s a timelessness about it that’s both comforting and inspired. There are no singing snowmen, or talking cars, or yellow sidekicks; this movie is pure, and heartfelt, and embodies a mastery that we haven’t seen in a long time (maybe since The Secret of Kells). It looks the way a warm blanket feels, totally enveloping, which I suppose is appropriate: curl up, and hear a fine tale.

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21 thoughts on “Song of the Sea

  1. Andrew

    Beautiful review. I’m so excited to see this one. I am fascinated by stories of Selkies and this one looks so beautiful. I’m glad that you were a fan 😀

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  2. killkenny16

    Great review. This is one of those foreign movies that I try to make a note of during Oscar season and immediately forget to watch over the next few months. I’ll get to it eventually.

    I was disappointed that The Lego Movie didn’t get nominated too. Further proof that what the Academy decides is not the be-all and end-all of movies.

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    1. Jay Post author

      It’s good. It’s so much quieter than Pixar and Dreamworks stuff, which is like for kids on a sugar rush. Constant stimulation! Never slow down! All cartoons must feel like commercials!

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      1. killkenny16

        Ha ha, yeah, it can feel like that, but I’d be lying if I said I didn’t love those movies too. It always feel nice to see more mature animation, though (For lack of a better term).

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      1. Jordan Dodd

        And it is so freaking long too. Tha’ts why I like the Blindspot blogathon, 12 films I’ve had on my watch-list forever is a nice easy goal. Ideally I wanna do more actually, I love seeing movies that were recommended to me years ago.

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  3. Courtney Small

    Ugh The Lego Movie…will never understand the unanimous love for that film. Song of the Sea and The Boxtrolls are the two animated Oscar nominees that I need to catch up with. In fact I still have not seen The Secret of Kells either. I think a The Secret of Kells/Song of the Sea double bill is in order.

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  4. DotedOn

    Thanks for this review! I’m always looking for movies to watch with my kids… Very hard to make happy my boys and daughter at the same time.
    A couple of weeks ago, after a long search, I found “The Book of Life” and we were all pleased… But that doesn’t happen often :).

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  5. Indah Susanti

    I enjoy reading your review! I will watch this with my nieces who often visiting us in the weekend. Sometimes it’s nice just to sit on the sofa together with them and watch good movie! Thank you for your recommendation and nice review!

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  6. diahannreyes

    Now I’m going to have to watch this movie. It sounds fantastic and makes me wonder, why haven’t I heard about this? I appreciate your passion for the Lego movie, which was a fun ride for sure. Love the song, too- just AWESOME!

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    1. Jay Post author

      Yeah, it was a really quiet movie. When it got nominated for the Oscar, almost no one had seen it, and it wasn’t available to be seen, for the most part. I’m not sure if it got a better distribution overseas, but I’m happy it made it here at last.

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