“The Secret of Kells" at the Bettendorf Public Library -- September 27.

Wednesday, September 27, 6 p.m.

Bettendorf Public Library, 2950 Learning Campus Drive, Bettendorf IA

A charming family entertainment nominated for Best Animated Feature at the 82nd Academy Awards, the Irish-French-Belgian co-production The Secret of Kells serves as the second screening in the Bettendorf Public Library's Global Gathering Ireland film series, its September 27 presentation sure to demonstrate why Film Comment applauded its "decidedly pleasing-to-the-eye, retro-cartoon vibe," and why the Daily Telegraph deemed the movie "simply ravishing."

Directed by Tomm Moore and Nora Twomey, The Book of Kells is based on the story of the origin of the Book of Kells, an illuminated manuscript Gospel book in Latin, containing the four Gospels of the New Testament located in Dublin, Ireland. In the animated film, magic, fantasy, and Celtic mythology come together in a riot of color and detail that dazzle the eyes, creating a sweeping story about the power of imagination and faith to carry humanity through dark times. The film finds young Brendan living in the Abbey of Kells, a remote Medieval outpost under siege from raiding barbarians. One day, a celebrated master illuminator arrives from foreign lands carrying an ancient but unfinished book, brimming with secret wisdom and powers. To help complete the magical book, Brendan has to overcome his deepest fears on a dangerous quest that takes him into the enchanted forest where mythical creatures hide. It is here that he meets the fairy Aisling, a mysterious young wolf-girl who helps him along the way. But with the barbarians closing in, will Brendan's determination and artistic vision illuminate the darkness and show that enlightenment is the best fortification against evil?

The film began development in 1999, when Moore and several of his friends found themselves inspired by Richard Williams's The Thief and the Cobbler, Disney's Mulan, Gustav Klimt's paintings, John Bauer's illustrations, and the works of legendary filmmaker Hayao Miyazaki, which based their visual style on the respective traditional art of the cultures featured in each film. Moore and his collaborators decided to do something similar to Studio Ghibli's films but with Irish art, and Moore explained in Animation: A World History that the visual style was inspired by Celtic and medieval art, being "flat, with false perspective and lots of colour," and even the cleanup planned to "obtain the stained-glass effect of thicker outer lines." Upon its release, Moore's and Twomey's movie was a hit among reviewers, with Rotten Tomatoes' critical consensus raving, "Beautifully drawn and refreshingly calm, The Secret of Kells hearkens back to animation's golden age with an enchanting tale inspired by Irish mythology." Variety magazine, meanwhile, called the work "refreshingly different" and "absolutely luscious to behold."

With the 2023 Global Gathering Ireland funded by the Bettendorf Public Library Foundation and supported by title sponsor Northwest Bank & Trust and presenting sponsor the Iowa American Water Company, The Secret of Kells will be screened on September 27 at 6 p.m., admission to the PG-13 movie is free, and more information is available by calling (563)344-4175 and visiting BettendorfLibrary.com.

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