Song of the Sea
A vacation to a recurring place, like that cabin in the mountains you visit once a year, is one of those nostalgic memories that you treasure so much that you’ll try hard to recreate it when your turn comes to be a parent. For most, there are either mountain people or beach people; one set enjoys the sea air and playing in the sand while there are those that prefer the smell of pine and the wide openness of nature. I’ve had the privilege to have both, though I consider myself more of a beach guy.
One place that my parents would take my brother and I (and still do to this day) is the lovely Laguna Beach. The conflicting scents of sunscreen and ocean water give me such a relaxing buzz that I can’t help but feel that the sea itself calls to me. Being about to observe the tide corals and touch them, as well as sticking my feet in the water just seems to define Southern California. It’s such a laid back atmosphere and it’s something that I hope to observe more in the future. The call of the ocean is the subject in Song of the Sea.
It’s set in Ireland where we find a family living on an island in a lighthouse where a young boy named Ben loves his life with his lighthouse keeper father and his mother whose ready to give birth to a daughter. One night she disappears into the sea but the daughter is born safely. The father becomes distant from his kids out of guilt that he couldn’t have saved his wife, leaving young Ben to care for his sister.
Six years later, the girl, named Saoirse, has yet to speak and easily frustrates Ben as he’s remained fearful of the ocean water and forbids her to enter it. The two are your typical brother sister set who tend to fight and play pranks on each other, even though Ben is usually the troublemaker. Their grandmother comes to visit on Saoirse’s birthday and tries again to persuade her son to let the grandkids come live with her. Things seem to go fine until Saoirse finds her mothers seashell that was given to Ben. She finds that when she plays it, a magical force leads her to find a coat where upon wearing in the sea, will allow her to turn into a seal. The incident convinces the father the kids might be better off and send them to their grandmother. The kids don’t like the arrangement and set off to return to the lighthouse while coming across some other mysterious Celtic legends.
The team behind this picture also made the previously Oscar nominated Secret of the Kells. As with their last film, Song of the Sea is beautifully hand drawn, which is something we really need more of. Some say that computer animation is all what people want, but I think if marketed well, this would have done as well as a regular Disney movie (maybe not Frozen levels, but a lot).
As a story, Song of the Sea is a nice coming of age story that nicely shows a genuine relationship of brother and sister. A lot of the brother-sister sets we see are usually fighting or really close, yet this one is a bit a both, and because of that, feels more real. I too would be just as stressed should my sibling have never talked.
The legends of giants turning into stone islands, trolls living in cities and owl witches are fun to hear about and have a timeless quality that more Americans should hear about. That might be the Irish ancestry inside of me but what are young gonna do?
I’ll give this five seashell flutes out of five. Song of the Sea has plenty of mysterious fantasy without any unnecessary pandering that one might receive from Nickelodeon. This is a film a highly recommend to not just families, but to those that have had a sibling.