I am rebooting my presence in the blogosphere:
Wonderful and terrifying things from the borderlands of imagination… as explained by ME.
“Anime” >> Tomm Moore’s The Secret of Kells
Note: I’m filing all animated features under the tag “anime” for convenience’s sake.
First off, one must remember that the visual artistry of this film is its major draw. I’ll ramble a lot about its plot and characters, but in the end its mind-blowing, hand-drawn animation steals the show. The glorious curves of both the natural world and the calligraphied page reverberate and enrich each other in the world of Kells, leaving no stone unbeautified.
Basically, The Secret of Kells relates the heroic history of a young monk by the name of Brendan, who will later go on in the film’s universe to illuminate vast portions of that great Irish Gospel manuscript, the Book of Kells. To give a brief plot outline: Brendan’s uncle, the Abbot (and essentially lord) of Kells, has apparently spent the vast majority of his tenure there as a foreman for a building project of vital importance–a wall to protect against the inevitable hordes of “Northmen” (the Vikings, envisioned as unstoppable killing machines by the filmmakers). Due to their dire circumstances, the Abbot Cellach keeps a tight rein on his nephew to prevent him from wandering to his doom outside the village built up around the abbey. Going against type, the Abbot is portrayed as an almost scientific fellow–unlike the usual cinematic depiction of the misnomered “Dark Ages,” Brendan is portrayed as parroting not the Abbot’s credulousness, but his skepticism of whatever might go bump in the wood.
But, of course, Brendan gets sent by the monk Aidan (later St. Aidan) to retrieve some berries from the forest interior… er, and also the legendary “Eye of Columcille,” a “magic” crystal used by the abbot Columcille (later St. Columba) to transcribe 300 books at once. In the wood he meets the winsome gal (read: manic pixie dream girl) Aisling… and the bloodcurdling monster Crom Cruach.
As I mentioned earlier, Christians aren’t uniformly portrayed as dour fools in the village of Kells… heck, look at the wacky multi-ethnic band of monks that follow Brendan about during the first scenes. And furthermore, pagans and faery folk aren’t uniformly innocent and magical: besides the inhuman Vikings, we only have Aisling and Crom Cruach for reference. The small clutch of main characters all have rather unique turns, making this far more than just another cartoon. But then again, I’m sure you’d expect me to say that given the rest of the content in the blog’s “anime” category.
Final Grade: A-.
“And now I say unto you, refrain from these men and let them alone: for if this counsel or this work be of men, it will come to nought: but if it be of God, ye cannot overthrow it…”
–Rabbi Gamaliel (Teacher of St. Paul) in Acts 5:38-39
I consider myself a rather conservative Christian overall. By that, I mean I tend to look back to what came before for advice on how to proceed in the present. To be honest, I feel if more “conservatives” (politically speaking) would do this, they would agilely avoid the seething welter of madness that currently styles itself “neo-conservatism.” But I digress.
I hold to classical tenets like the veracity of Scripture, Christ as the God-Man, the wisdom of the saints,1 and the idiocy of a clown Eucharist.2 However, I have also latched onto some beliefs that may isolate me slightly from the Lewis-Chesterton school of thought I have identified with for so long. I realize all of them relate to the fascinating subject of sex and gender except for the one with the surest biblical and patristic foundations: apokatastasis, or restitutio omnium, or universal salvation, which will be discussed in another entry.
So what remains? Why, the ordination of women and the ordination/acceptance of homosexuals, of course. I was drawn into this mess after casting my lot with the now infamous Episcopal Church in the United States. The hierachs’ zeal for forcible reform will indeed prove their undoing, but I still feel the Continuing Anglicans’ garrulous schism has small justification. Case in point, I don’t think God withdraws His presence from the eucharistic elements if a lady (created in God’s image) prays the epiklesis. Maybe that pushes me back into the Protestant camp, but for me, the priest is imago Dei, not alter Christus… at least, not any more than any other human being is.
Ugh… I hope I’m not just buttressing my fantasies here. G. K. Chesterton went looking for heresy and found orthodoxy–I hope I don’t just find more old heresies. If the curious experiments of various churches recently fail miserably and drives everyone away (as their critics expect), then obviously it was all a project of manmade pride. If it succeeds, however, and draws previously untouched men and women to a lifetime that begins a wondrous eternity, then, well… I would say it was the Lord’s doing, wouldn’t you?