Coming up on what will I am sure will be a strange or different type of award season, the film which seems to have the most secure footing is the animated film Wolfwalkers. I say that because it has won many different awards from critic associations or at festivals. It most certainly is the front runner in the animation category.
In a new land, an English father and daughter are trying to find their roles. While dad (voiced by Sean Bean – from television’s Game of Thrones) is trying to prove that he is a skilled hunter, he is just trying to keep his daughter Robyn (Honor Kneafsey – Miss You Already) safe. Bill has been engaged by the Lord Protector (Simon McBurney – The Last King of Scotland, The Conjuring 2) to help trap and kill the pack of wolves which have been terrorizing an Irish town. Father and daughters are at odds because he wants her to stay home and do her chores while she sees herself as his apprentice hunter.
After having snuck out one day from the walled town of Kilkenny they live in, Robyn stumbles across the dangerous wolf pack her father has been hunting. Robyn discovers that the pack is led by a couple of Wolfwalkers. Wolfwalkers are humans able to transform into wolves. After befriending the free spirited Mebh (Eva Whittaker – first feature).
One thing leads to another and Robyn is forced to make choices in order to save her new friend and her captured mother (Maria Doyle Kennedy – from television’s The Tudors) which puts her at odds with the townsfolk and her very own father.
A very Irish story from an Irish animation studio. That is what filmmaking is all about. A good story is a good story. Doesn’t matter where it originates from. While simple enough to be understood by even young watchers the story does contain important messages about right versus wrong, good versus evil, love, family and the importance of nature. All universal themes which can be related to no matter where you live on this globe.
Directors Tomm Moore (The Secret of Kells, Song of the Sea), a veteran of the animated film world, and Ross Stewart (first film) have brought the mystical fables of Ireland to the world. Reminded us of what it was like to be a youngster and the possibilities of having the entire world open to you. Anything is possible and a lot involves magical elements. A confirmation that with imagination things are without limits.
At the same time they remind us of what the country of Ireland has had to endure. It existing underneath the large looming shadow of world power England. How the people there were under the thumb of the British for centuries. How the British saw them as a people and land to be “controlled”.
The animation here is what I guess would be considered “old school” in that it looks hand drawn. Each frame of the film is a delight. The detail here is amazing. So much is going on in each frame – in the foreground and background. Very cinematic. A treat for the eyes.
A film filled with magic and delightful storytelling, Wolfwalkers will drawn in all who watch. Expect it to be nominated in the animated film category for the 2021 Oscars.
Wolfwalkers is available on Apple TV+.