The Secret of Kells

(Tomm Moore): Voices of Brendan Gleeson, Mick Lally, Evan Maguire, Christen Mooney

Running time: 78 mins (PG)

Rating: 4/5

Forget about Mission Impossible or Batman saving Gotham City from the Joker. In The Secret of Kells, Brendan, a small red-haired boy in a novice's habit, has a much more daring and meaningful quest. Defying his abbot and eluding marauding vikings beyond the monastery walls, he slips out into a forest of devilish wolves in search of the oak berries needed to provide ink pigments for what could become one of the greatest illuminated manuscripts in western civilisation. Conceived by Tomm Moore and his co-director Nora Twomey, The Secret of Kells is exquisitely realised in terms of the aesthetics of medieval culture, unfolding like a lavishly illustrated old scroll suddenly coming to life. By opting for 2-D hand-drawn imagery rather than computer-generated 3-D animation, Moore achieves a natural marriage of form and historical content and also shows a marvellous empathy with the comic, the way children imagine and create pictures – with flat drawings and bursts of colour.