“Song of The Sea”
Those of us who love Irish legends and folklore
will simply delight in the telling of this fanciful tale of fairies, magic,
and the unseen spirit world which lies just beneath us, and sparkles all
Brendan Gleeson is the voice of the Dad, Conor,
whose little boy Ben (David Rawle) looks just like him, and his young wife is
pregnant with their second child, who is due at any moment.
Mom (Fionnula Flanagan) tells her son stories of
selkies, part seal and part human, who live in the ocean most of the time, but
some can live on land for a while, as well.
She tells of a giant who boldly strode the sea in
his seven-league boots, but he was cursed with such sorrow that he cried the
ocean full of his tears, and now is turned to stone beside the ocean.
There are fairies who live below ground, and are
unseen by most, but they are pursued by the wicked witch and her coven of
owls, and unless the fairies can hear the song of the selkie, then they, too,
will turn to stone, and their winsome presence lost and silenced.
The boy loves his Mom, of course, but believes
all the bedtime stories are just that.
He does love to hear his Mom sing.
Her voice is clear as a bell, and faintly echoes
the sea which they live beside, in the cozy home by the lighthouse on top of
the hill. There’s
a big white sheep dog, Cu, and it seems to be a very loving intact family,
until it’s no longer intact.
Mom dies giving birth to Saoirse (Lucy
O’Connell), and poor Dad is so distraught that he often seems glum and
distracted and distant.
Saoirse, for her part, is a gentle soul, but is
so quiet that she’s 6 years old and doesn’t even talk yet.
She obviously loves her big brother, though, and
will follow him anywhere.
Sometimes he gets annoyed with her constant
presence, and at other times he’ll swat her hand away when she tries to take
his hand while they’re walking.
But though she irritates him, he loves her, also,
and the depths of that love are soon to be sorely tested.
Saorise hears the sea calling her like a siren,
and one night she just goes for an ocean swim alone.
She’s not in any danger; her friends, the
seals, will see to that.
But her visiting grandmother is so alarmed at
finding her washed up on the shore in the morning that she insists on taking
the kids to live with her in
hate it, of course, but Dad is just too sad and preoccupied to fight it.
He even throws away the favorite fur coat of
Saoirse’s, the one that, unbeknownst to him, allowed her to transform into a
seal in the water.
both kids are like, well, seals out of water.
The boy decides he must try to make his way back
home, to the sea, and luckily meets up with his faithful dog, Cu, who has come
looking for him, to show him the way home.
He tethers his sister to himself with a dog
frightened and hesitant, but she follows him because she knows he loves her,
and her harping grandmother does nothing but fuss at them constantly, mostly
for being children.
What follows is a kind of epic boy’s journey
through the fairylands, where Ben soon realizes that his sister is something
special; a selkie, and he now understands that his
Mom was, also. The
spirit world awaits the song of Saorirse to awaken them from their stone-cold
slumber, but first Saorise, also, must survive capture by the wicked owls, and
await the rescue from her big brother, who is courageous and resourceful, and
really will do anything to save her.
It’s a charming story, with wonderful, colorful
animation, and a masterful accompanying orchestral soundtrack, as well.
It’s just a great bedtime story for all ages,
so its nomination for an Academy Award is well-deserved.
Dr. Ronald P. Salfen is the Parish
Associate, Woodhaven Presbyterian Church,