Saturday, October 23, 2010

Why my niece and nephew are getting this

The Book of Kells is considered Ireland's most precious treasure.

Looking at it really does make the eyeballs bleed, in the best way possible. When they talk about works of art making people cry, instead of thinking of about Michaelangelo, I think of the nameless scribes who made the Book of Kells.

Last year an animated movie was released called The Secret of Kells. It relates a fictional story about the making of the book, full of little details aimed to please Medievalists and book lovers every where. For example, in the 8th century an Irish scribe wrote a poem about himself and his little cat Pangur Bán. The little cat in the movie is named, of course, Pangur Bán.

Anyhoo, the animation is jaw-dropping. Absolutely gorgeous. Most interesting of all, the animation is inspired by the art in the Book of Kells. It is at times ornate, rich, with jewel-like detail.

My favorite bits, though, are the bits that use Medieval approaches to depth; the landscapes are flattened, linear, objects and buildings are shown from multiple perspectives at the same time (e.g., from the side and from above).

Like Medieval art, the movie avoids 'true' single-point perspective. Seeing it was a great reminder of the many ways that images can tell stories; the Western ideas of perspective and naturalism are not our only option!

Plus, the movie was a love story written for a book, a book that loved images as much as it loved words. And that's why my niece and nephew are getting it. The movie, that is.


Charles Ellwood Jones said...

In the movie Brother Aidan looks just like Willie Nelson

Katie Rask said...

I totally agree! I loved that part :)

Anonymous said...


We watched "The Secret of Kells" this weekend. Kate fell in love with the movie. It's in the cart already.


Katie Rask said...

Scot, fantastic!

Benjamin said...

Hi Katie! I once took a class on the book in the Medieval World and saw some pictures from the Book of Kells. It is indeed a gorgeous book. Someday I hope to see it in person.

Thanks for the tidbit about the animated film. I'll definitely look for that soon. :)

Benjamin said...

Katie, I just watched the movie tonight. I thought it was fantastic! I just wish the movie could have been a little longer.