10th October 2020 6.30pm at BFI Player
The first animated feature from Apple TV arrives courtesy of the Irish studio Cartoon Saloon. For the production company, the film actually represents the final instalment of director Tomm Moore’s folkloric trilogy. The previous two set a lofty benchmark. Both Oscar-nominated and critically acclaimed, The Secret of Kells (2009) and Song of the Sea (2014) earned Moore’s studio prestige and high expectations.
Cartoon Saloon outdoes itself with Wolfwalkers: a beautifully delivered story which interweaves Irish folklore with cultural history. The year is 1650 and England’s campaign to “tame” the rebellious Irish is at its peak. Lord Protector Oliver Cromwell’s villainous effort to destroy the country’s culture (and religion) is masterminded from within the fortified walls of Kilkenny.
As Cromwell struggles to subjugate a resistant population, his plans to expand colonisation have been hitherto savaged by wolves in the woods surrounding his base of operations. Thrown into this divisive battle is a young English girl, Robyn Goodfellowe (Honor Kneafsey), who travelled to Ireland with her wolf-hunting father (voiced by Game of Thrones actor Sean Bean).
Local legend says the wolves answer to the mysterious “wolfwalkers”: a community of people who turn into the animals whilst they sleep. The invading English, including Robyn and her father, pass the rumours off as nonsense – until Robyn befriends a young wolfwalker named Mebh, that is. Immediately recognising the perilous line she walks between the two cultures and between her father and a new friend, Robyn keeps the friendship a secret until, inevitably, difficult choices must be made.
Illustrator Ross Stewart assists Moore in spinning this beautifully told yarn. Verdant greens with earthy tones of brown and red splash the mysterious forest, while ethereal streaks of yellow and blue depict the sun’s beams and the moon’s glow. The soured citadel, meanwhile, is a sorry palette of grey and brown. These effective colour schemes breathe magic and spirit into an enchanting tale.
It’s the perfect closing chapter to a unique trilogy blending tradition, history and riotous fun. WolfWakers invites you into its embrace and welcomes you to a wondrous world of mystical beauty and adventure.
Wolfwalkers is released nationwide on Apple TV+ on 30th October 2020.
Read more reviews and interviews from our London Film Festival 2020 coverage here.
For further information about the festival visit the official BFI website here.
Watch the trailer for Wolfwalkers here: