Sunday, April 26, 2015

Song of the Sea

I absolutely adore the Secret of Kells animated film. So when I heard they had made another movie, called Song of the Sea, I was very excited. Song of the Sea is based on the Irish legend of the selkies. Selkies were magical creatures who had two forms: their natural form was a seal, but when they removed their coat, they looked like a beautiful, human woman. They were the Irish version of a mermaid. Selkie women sometimes married human men and spent years on shore raising their children and dreaming of the sea. However, eventually they had to leave their families behind, called home by the song of the sea. This movie tells the tale of the children of a selkie and the adventure such a magical inheritance brings them.

This story begins with a mother about to give birth to her second child. She is putting her son to bed, singing him a Gaelic song and telling him stories of the legends of Ireland. Suddenly, she tearfully flees. Six years later, her husband is raising their son, Ben and the daughter, Saoirse, who was born that fateful night. Saoirse has never spoken a single word, and Ben does his best to ignore her, as he feels that she stole their mother away. Ben is afraid of the water, but Saoirse is drawn to the sea and the seals who play there. That night, after celebrating Saoirse's birthday with a special visit from grandmother, Saoirse is drawn to the magical shell flute her mother had given to Ben. When she plays it, tiny, glowing, fairy lights appear, and guide her to the trunk containing her selkie coat. When she puts it on and walks into the sea, she turns into a small, white seal. After playing with the seals, she washes up on the shore, a girl again. Her grandmother finds the girl, and fears for her safety, while Saoirse's father is afraid he'll lose her the way he lost mother.

The next morning, grandmother takes Ben and Saoirse to the city to live with her. This is the start of their adventure. Grandmother is rather strict, and sends the siblings to bed at 4pm on Halloween after Saoirse ruins her good fur coat. The fairies who live in a mound in the center of town, see the ruined coat as a sign that the selkie has come to free them from Macha, the owl witch. Macha has turned most of the fairies to stone by taking away their emotions. She originally sent her owls to help her son overcome his grief, but in time her own emotions caused havoc in her life, so she sought to protect everyone from their pain. But according to the fairies, if Saoirse can sing her magical song, they'll all be free to return home, whole once more. So Saoirse and Ben set out on an adventure where they meet many magical creatures and overcome many obstacles in their journey to free the fair folk.

Song of the Sea is a beautiful interpretation of Irish legend. I love the way it brings together tales of the selkies and fair folk, and the animation is just gorgeous. While the story can be somewhat dark and frightening at times, and has a few sad moments as well, it is well worth watching with your family.

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