Rating out of 5:
“Song of the Sea” is a gorgeously animated tale dealing with a rich mythology well-known by some, but a mystery to many; the old tales and songs of Ireland.
Besides featuring magic, silkies, giants, and ell-witches, Song of the Sea is at its core a tale about loss, childhood, and sibling love. Navigating an unfamiliar mythology has its pitfalls, where explanation threatens to overtake storytelling but Song of the Sea avoids them with grace, weaving the background into the plot seamlessly. This is in no small part achieved by the visual delights of the film, the simplicity of the digital 2D animation twining the dual worlds of reality and magic together.
Traditional patterns and imagery abound, and maintain a strong sense of Ireland and the mythology which the tale draws on. The specific legend which the film is based on is that of the Silkie Wife, which I won’t recount here for length, but the film mainly deals with Ben and his little sister Saoirse (pronounced Ser-sha). After discovering that his little sister is a silkie (not really a spoiler), Ben and Saoirse must undertake a journey to find Saoirse’s voice, and to save the spirit world from the evil owl-witch Macha.
Particularly as you go into the holiday season and the old favourites which you know word for word start to make their way onto your screens, consider changing it up and watching Song of the Sea. Children and adults alike will be fascinated to learn about Mac Lir, Seanachai, and the Aos Sí, and the quality of the story is vouched for by its accolades, particularly its Academy Award nomination for Best Animated Feature this year. This film will charm you, not only through the accents, language, and mythology of Ireland, but also through an enduring tale of family, love, and song.
– Katrina Davies