Thursday, 30 March 2017

Song of the Sea (2014)

Fig 1 - Song of the Sea Poster
Song of the Sea, directed by Tomm Moore, follows the story of a small family living beside a lighthouse on an island off the Irish coast. The film opens with the mysterious disappearance of a pregnant mother, Bronach (Lisa Hannigan), who presumably passes away during childbirth, much to the confusion of her young son, Ben (David Rawle). From here we cut to the future in which Ben is now the older brother of Saoirse (Lucy O'Connell), a seemingly mute child who appears to possess the same magical gift as her mother had. In the background, we witness their father Conor (Brendan Gleeson) spiraling into depression at the loss of his wife and subsequently the children are sent to live with their Granny (Fionnula Flanagan). Unable to adjust to city life, Ben and Saoirse sneak out of their Granny's house in order to find their way home. However, along the way the children become wrapped up in a fantastical adventure that calls into question Saoirse's true abilities...

First and foremost, the art direction by Adrien Merigeau is just unbelievable. It's one of those films in which pausing at any given moment would be representative enough of the attention to detail in every passing frame. The roundness and illustrative quality to the animation gives one the truest sense of stepping right into a storybook. The world established here is absolutely reminiscent of any number of Studio Ghibli films, which ground their stories in reality whilst retaining some utterly fantastical elements that call to question whether or not the events playing out are really happening. However, as with Ghibli, the visuals are such a delight to behold that it hardly matters whether or not the story is metaphorical. It is also similar to Ghibli in it's pacing and blending of multiple realities, which allow the viewer plenty of time to drink in the gorgeous Irish landscapes and mythical environments.

Fig 2 - Song of the Sea - Saoirse and Ben
I thought that the voice acting was very nicely done, with particular emphasis on Brendan Gleeson as the morose and conflicted father who has clearly let the tragedy of his wife's death engulf his life. On behalf of the story, it was interesting to see the way in which characters from the family would parallel with those encountered on the children's adventure and in the folklore Ben recites. Though the narrative isn't always 'crystal clear', it doesn't feel like a mistake to leave some elements open to interpretation, giving the film a level of depth that older viewers can appreciate too.

On the whole, my second viewing of this film was just as fun and mesmerising as the first. Song of the Sea will undoubtedly become a classic of the genre in years to come, giving audiences young and old alike a spellbinding hour and a half of escapism that will resonate with them long after.


Fig. 1 Song of the Sea Poster (2014) From: Song of the Sea - Directed by: Tomm Moore

Fig. 2 Song of the Sea Screenshot (2014) From: Song of the Sea - Directed by: Tomm Moore

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