Starring: Honor Kneafsey, Eva Whittaker, Sean Bean
Director: Tomm Moore, Ross Stewart
Running Time: 103 mins
Wolfwalkers is an Irish film about a young English girl living in the Cromwellian-occupied town of Kilkenny in 1650 who discovers a pack of mysterious wolves in the forest
Yet another utterly wonderful animation from director Tomm Moore, Wolfwalkers combines beautiful and elegant storytelling with sweet folklore and fascinating historical context, all brought to life in spellbinding fashion by some of the most gorgeous animation in modern cinema.
I’ve loved all of Tomm Moore’s most recent animations, The Secret Of Kells, Song Of The Sea and The Breadwinner. Of the three, Song Of The Sea is the strongest by far, but Wolfwalkers at times comes very close to matching that beautiful storybook tale on a windswept Irish isle.
In truth, Wolfwalkers isn’t quite as emotionally rich as Song Of The Sea, but it’s often the most gripping story from the director, taking yet another step forward to blending challenging drama with the innocent, storybook qualities of Moore’s animations.
As with his previous films, Wolfwalkers is fully suitable for younger viewers, and it puts a lot more emphasis onto its fantastical, folklore story elements than anything a little too harsh and real-world. However, where this film really succeeds is in the way that it combines folklore with real history, offering a fascinating window into the past that few films before it have really tried to explore.
Set in Ireland during the occupation under the brutal Oliver Cromwell, Wolfwalkers is an eye-opening and passionate view on the oppressed lives of ordinary people during the period, something that’s so often glossed over in cinema – particularly from an English perspective.
I absolutely loved the way that Wolfwalkers used historical context to really ground its story, offering much more in the way of gripping storytelling than any of the previous animations from Tomm Moore. Admittedly, that historical context does mean the film loses some of the pure, innocent qualities of the likes of Song Of The Sea and The Secret Of Kells, but for the most part, it makes Wolfwalkers an enthralling watch throughout.
Intertwining with yet more boundlessly imaginative fantasy based in Irish folklore, and Wolfwalkers retains the unique and staggeringly genuine atmosphere that has made all of Moore’s previous films so outstanding, marking him out as one of the most eye-catching directors in modern animation.
And of course, we can’t talk about this film without mentioning its beautiful visuals. Though a little more cartoonish than the pure storybook style of Song Of The Sea, Wolfwalkers still has the humble, down-to-earth look of a hand-drawn picture book, further appealing to the innocent child inside of you while also making sure that every second is so beautiful that you can’t really look away.
Dramatically, it’s fair to say that Wolfwalkers is never quite as intimate as Song Of The Sea, and although it’s wonderful to follow the story of two young girls fighting for what’s right in the face of evil oppression, the movie does miss out on quieter, more charming moments of emotion that could have really put a tear in my eye.
On the whole, however, Wolfwalkers is yet another wonderful piece of animation from Tomm Moore, who combines with co-director Ross Stewart to tell a thoroughly enjoyable adventure story that blends elegant and imaginative folklore and fantasy with gripping historical context. It’s not the very best from the director on account of a relative lack of emotional depth, but there’s no denying that Wolfwalkers is a really, really special film, so that’s why I’m giving it a 7.8.