Monday, July 27, 2015

Must See Movie Monday - The Secret of Roan Inish

Film: The Secret of Roan Inish
Released: 1994
Rated: PG
Director: John Sayles
Starring: Jeni Courtney, Eileen Colgan, Mick Lally, Richard Sheridan
Short Summary:  When 10 year old Fiona is sent to live with her grandparents in a small fishing village in Donegle, Ireland, she discovers that her family has a mysterious past. There is a story that one of her ancestors was married to a Selkie (a seal that turns into a human), and that Fiona's little brother long lost at sea is being cared for by her seal ancestors.

Why It's A Must See Movie

I wanted to pick a movie for all ages for this week. The Secret of Roan Inish recently turned up on Netflix for streaming. It was a childhood favorite of mine which I hadn't watched since that time, and so I decided to give it a watch. While I did love it as a child I think I could better appreciate it as an adult. Apparently even as a child I enjoyed thought provoking, quiet, and beautiful films. This film is definitely all of those things.

What I enjoy about this movie is that it isn't just a movie, it is a cultural experience. A large portion of the movie is about people telling Fiona stories of the past. Through these stories you are subsequently learning about Irish history in a very fun and magical way. This movie uses things like storytelling, flashbacks, and voice over in an entertaining way. Sometimes all of those things can fall flat. However, because the visuals and dialogue is so poetically beautiful through out the film everything about these stories works. It helps that the older actors in the movie are excellent at doing monologues.

I am a sucker for Celtic music. The soundtrack for the music is made up entirely of traditional Celtic tunes that add even more to the cultural experience. However, the film also is one where it uses silence very well. Silence can be just as important as great soundtrack.

I love the camera work in The Secret of Roan Inish. Not only does it show the wonderful Irish landscapes, it also has some lovely storytelling aspects that pulled me in. For example, the beginning of the film is shot almost from Fiona's point of view. Making the adults look very large. It gets you immediately in to seeing the whole story from her childlike point of view. I think that is brilliant.

I always love when a movie or book draws focus to a mythology that is rarely used. This movie talks about the legend of the Selkie. I have always liked stories about these mythological creatures. (Probably because I watched this movie as a child now that I think about it.) Yet, I simply can't think of more than a few movies and short stories about these creatures. I think it is wonderful that this film uses the myth as such an elemental part of the story.

I think The Secret of Roan Inish is a wonderful movie. Perfect if you are want to watch something lovely on a Sunday as I did. Plus, the seals in are just so flipping adorable. You have to love cute seals.

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