Forget Alice in Wonderland

11:04 AM Posted In , , Edit This 0 Comments »
I want to see Brendan and the Secret of Kells.

We've been holding our breath for the last many months, waiting for the release of Tim Burton's  Alice in Wonderland.  Our little Jacqueline Sparrow has been particularly excited about this movie as she is deeply in teen celeb crush with Johnny Depp.  (She does admit there's a small creepy factor in this big crush, as Johnny is older than her dad - but oh well.  Harrison Ford is the same age as my dad and he was pretty cute 'till he started looking like Grandpa.) 

Our family doesn't attend movies very often for lots of reasons;- we have to pre-view just about everything for violence before we can show it to Maxx, (this is a serious issue with him - we had to put Beauty and the Beast away for several months because of film inspired violence!) the theater is expensive and taking all 4 of us pretty much eats up an entire year's entertainment budget and we're so darn busy that actually scheduling a theater date and getting there on time is a challenge.  We generally just wait for stuff to come out on DVD.  But we've been planning on seeing Alice in the theater so that we can fully enjoy Burton's neo-gothic spin on the story and the juicy 3-D CGI animation.  And Johnny. 

Today, I discovered a film that I might just want to see MORE than Alice. (Thank you, Velma for calling this film to my atention!)

Brendan and the Secret of Kells has been available in Europe sine February '09 but it recently won several awards, including being a surprise pick for the Oscars and will now open March 12 in selected US cities and will .  It uses a combination of old style animation and CGI elements with the artwork being inspired by the Book Of Kells itself.  The story is about a young novice who must confront fear during a dangerous time to help complete the Book of Kells, the fairy girl who befriends him and the conflict between new and old, light and dark, enlightenment and fear.

I love the images and trailers I've seen from the film so far.  The ones here are borrowed from the film's website -  go have a look for yourself.  As much as I enjoy Pixar and other animated films relying on CGI to make a 'realistic' looking world, I miss the old style animation.  I have always loved Disney's Sleeping Beauty precisely because it did not look "real" but was beautiful in a way I often wish the real world could be. 

In his writing about his conversion to Christianity, C.S. Lewis spoke of "joy" as being the experience of desiring something beautiful and otherworldly.  Having the thing we desire may not necessarily make us any happier than the experience of desiring that thing does.  In fact, Lewis claimed that actually having the thing you desire presented to you often kills the joy of desiring it.  It is the dream or the wish or the longing that brings joy, partly because the anticipation of the desired thing induces us to try to be worthy of that thing which we desire.  Stark reality can be rather flat and uninspiring.  

Sometimes I feel that modern animators, in their excitement to play with making pictures that look real, have traded the joy of artistry for the titillation of tricks.   Instead of creating in a wonderful Dreamtime, they are trying to visually duplicate what we already have.  Instead of allowing dragons and monsters and gods to exist in another, more magical, reality, they have tried to make them more mundane and believable.  I'll admit that CGI is fancy.  It's got some wow factor.  Some of it is utterly sublime and too beautiful to be real.  But much of it feels trendy and uninspired.  Less than Joyful.  The Secret of Kells returns to the beauty and life force of old hand drawn animation plus it claims to be a film about enlightenment overcoming hatred.  That feels timely to me.  I'm looking forward to it.

(P.S.  The images here are all copyrighted.  I'm using them under "fair use" laws that allow bloggers and writers to use images in articles that discuss the work pictured but be aware that it is illegal to take images like these from films or from any other artists' work and use them to create other works of art or to print or otherwise reproduce them for sale.)

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