Song of the Sea is a PG-rated (among the listed cautions for parents are “images of pipe-smoking”) animated feature movie meant for children with a story derived from elements of traditional Irish folklore with some original embroidery of its own.
Like The Secret of Kells, the previous picture by Cartoon Saloon, Song of the Sea attempts to utilize the Celtic style of stylized, decorative art in its animation, and tells a story where the hero is a pre-teen boy overtaken by larger forces who is helped by the fairy folk and other supernatural beings. Unlike The Secret of Kells, it is set in contemporary Ireland (the children are driven in a car when they go from their remote lighthouse home to stay with their grandmother in Dublin, emerge near the statue of Molly Malone after having an encounter with fairy folk and the Great Seanachie in their underground hideout, and shortly thereafter, attempt to take a bus back home).
Though not a sequel to “Kells,” which offered a magical origin story for Ireland’s treasured Book of Kells, “Song of the Sea” is a sort of spiritual follow-up, director Tomm Moore has said.
The idea for the film was born during production on “Kells” on the west coast of Ireland, where Moore and his family came across corpses of seals that had been killed by fishermen. A local told Moore that, years ago, the widespread belief that seals were mystical creatures who could contain human souls or transform into humans would have prevented their deaths.
Irish actress Fionnula Flanagan voiced both Granny & Macha in Song of The Sea, and strict-but-well-meaning Granny and scary “Owl Witch” Matcha were illustrated with similar facial and physical characteristics.
The official blog of Song of the Sea further informs us that “SONG took home best Animated film at THE SATELLITE AWARDS!” and that Songs & Secrets, an exhibition of the pre-production artwork from Song of the Sea and The Secret of Kells runs through June 21st at the San Francisco Cartoon Art Museum.