Cartoon Saloon continues to create something very special with each film they make. Completing a trilogy of sorts, which includes Secret of Kells and Song of the Sea, Wolfwalkers rounds up the magical folklore stories that we’ve been in awe of. In the world of animated films that centres around fairy tales, princesses, princes, and sequels, we are invited to enter the world of fantasy and folklore that hasn’t really been explored yet.
During a time of much superstition over anything magical, Robin Goodfellowe travels to Ireland with her hunter father who has been hired to rid the woods near Kilkenny of the wolves that dominate them. While venturing into the woods alone, Robin forms an unlikely friendship with the wild and free-spirited Mebh who she discovers to be a wolfwalker, she is a girl when awake and a wolf when asleep. But the wolf pack is in danger as the evil Lord Protector of the town vows to kill them all, Robin must help Mebh find her mother and lead the pack to safety.
Magic and folklore form the backbone of this story and at the centre is a friendship that breaks boundaries for the time that the story is set. Never shying away from the harsh realities of medieval times and practices, these are all necessary elements to the story, as you cannot have the magic and joy without the impending doom and death hanging over the characters. This may seem harsh for what is intended to be a family film but it’s needed to illustrate the context as well as create a balance and well-rounded story which Cartoon Saloon has always included in their films, setting it apart from other animation houses. Exploring what it is like to be a wolf is one of the most beautiful and intricately animated sequences in the film. With magic shown in glittering colours, set against the muted autumnal palette, seeing the transformation from sleeping human to wolf as an exciting and ethereal experience rather than that of a werewolf, full of pain and anguish. The soundtrack adds to the heart beating sequence and makes us want to join the pack and just like the song, run with the wolves tonight.
The animation that Cartoon Saloon creates is nothing short of mesmerising. With each and every frame, the characters, colours, and backgrounds are so intricately detailed with magic and wonder, you can find the delight in every frame, you cannot take your eyes of the film. Wolfwalkers isn’t just entertaining, there is a heartbeat throughout the story with characters that feel more than two dimensional, the film has something you just cannot find or feel in others of the same ilk. A unique and magical tale that anyone can enjoy.
Dir: Tomm Moore, Ross Stewart
Prd: Tomm Moore, Stéphan Roelants, Nora Twomey, Stéphan Roelants
Scr: Will Collins
Story by: Tomm Moore, Ross Stewart
Cast: Honor Kneafsey, Eva Whittaker, Sean Bean, Maria Doyle Kennedy, Simon McBurney
Music: Kíla, Aurora Asknes, Bruno Coulais
Country: UK, Ireland, Luxembourg, US, Japan, France, China
Running time: 100 minutes