While I don’t make a habit of reviewing movies on this blog, I’ve been known to do it in the past, such as the movie adaptation of Gone Girl. Any movie review I do would be movies based on books, with the exception of this one. After writing my review of The Iron Druid Chronicles a few days ago, I felt compelled to share a movie that has grown close to my heart and what has quickly become one of my favorite movies to date – Song of the Sea.
In many ways, Song of the Sea reminds me quite of bit of The Iron Druid Chronicles, in that it is set in Ireland with a heavy emphasis on Irish lore and mythology, particularly concerning the daoine sidhe. The legend of this movie, though, is about the selkie, a mythical being said to live as seals in the sea but shed their skin to become human on land. The two main characters of the movie are Ben and his younger sister, Saoirse. They live on an island alone with their father after losing their mother six years prior, the night Saoirse was born. From the very beginning of the movie, the audience learns that their mother, Bronach, is a selkie and – eventually – that Saoirse is one, too. After being forced from their home to live with their grandmother, though, Saoirse starts to become sick and it’s up to her brother, Ben, to help her find her selkie coat and get back to the sea.
The Story: While the basic storyline of the movie seems rather straightforward – one character going on a quest to help another character get well again – the plot itself and the progression of the movie are engaging. The movie is geared toward children, naturally, but adults will be just as fascinated with the mythology and lore. I was one of those people who knew next to nothing about the daoine sidhe or any sort of Irish mythology, at least until I started reading Kevin Hearne’s Iron Druid Chronicles. From there, I was able to learn the basics of the Irish gods and goddesses, as well as some of the more common mythological creatures – yes, a selkie DOES show up in the series! So it was definitely fun to see some of the correlations from a series that I loved to a movie that I adore. That said, since Irish mythology is so vast and somewhat obscure, I was able to learn quite a bit that I hadn’t from Hearne’s series, too. For example, we see an owl goddess called Macha in the movie, who in Irish mythology happens to be a sister to my favorite character from the series, Morrigan. Who knew! In addition, we learn quite a lot more about the selkie myth in general, such as the fact that if they return to the water and don’t stay there, they get sick. Even little references to myths that you wouldn’t catch at first, such as their dog being named Cú – a reference to doglike fey creatures – are snuck in. Very clever!
The animation: By far, this is one of the most beautifully animated movies I’ve ever seen. It’s stylized similar to Hayao Miyazaki’s work, in that it’s very colorful and detailed. It has a mystic, whimsical quality that accents the mythologically heavy story perfectly. The characters and animals are beyond cute and the attention to detail is superb. I mean, just look at Saoirse. She’s freaking adorable, in both her human and seal forms! Even stills of the movie
The Soundtrack: In addition to beautiful imagery, the movie comes with a diverse and charming soundtrack, many songs of which are Gaelic. The language is beautiful and magical in its own right, soothing and easy to listen to. It’s a perfect playlist for relaxation, writing or reading. Here's an example of one of the more popular songs from the movie.
The Message: It’s no secret that many stories involving selkies are often tragedies and this movie is no exception. Throughout the movie, Ben has gotten over the initial grief of losing his mother, but he still mourns her absence, as does his father. As a whole, the movie addresses the topic of grief in a surprisingly gentle and touching manner, in a way that is easy for younger audiences to comprehend and for older audiences to respect. It teaches that grief is temporary, no matter how hard it might be, and that those who pass on or are gone from us are never truly gone. It’s a beautiful message and it had me in tears the first time I watched it.
My final verdict is that this movie is not to be missed! If you love animated movies or are fond of magic and mythology, this is certainly a movie that you must track down and watch as soon as possible!