The Wolfwalkers: Into the Irish wild
by Claire La Combe
- Irish animation director Tomm Moore attended Cartoon Movie last week to pitch his latest movie, which is currently in production
Last week at Cartoon Movie, Irish animation director Tomm Moore (Song of the Sea [+see also:
interview: Tomm Moore
film profile], The Secret of Kells [+see also:
interview: Didier Brunner
interview: Tomm Moore
interview: Viviane Vanfleteren
film profile]) revealed his third feature film, The Wolfwalkers, which is currently in production with Cartoon Saloon. The pictures presented instantly placed the audience back in the colourful and magical world of Moore’s previous works. But for this last instalment in his Celtic triptych, it seems that the style has been pushed to explore wilder limits, with looser lines and sharper animation.
Rooted in Irish folklore, the story takes place in the 19th century, at a time of great Puritanism, when wolves were seen as demonic. Robyn, the 11-year-old heroine, is assisting her father as he hunts the last remaining pack. In the beginning, she is a lonely girl whose only friend is a hawk, and the adventure starts when she meets another outsider of a girl, the wild Mebh, a wolfwalker. Eventually, Robyn will turn herself into a wolfwalker, too – a girl during the day and a wolf at night – and this will prove to be incompatible with her everyday life with her father. The baddie, Oliver Cromwell, has already been depicted numerous times in film. Here, he is portrayed as a ruthless military man, based on a historical character famous for having cancelled Christmas. He’s the one who wants to get rid of all the wolves and has the fate of Robyn’s family in his hands. The Wolfwalkers tells a great tale of friendship.
Again, Moore toys with the contrasts between the dull, grey world of human beings and the far more colourful hues of nature. But it seems that his style goes even further this time: the city is depicted as a cage, with no perspective, and a tad claustrophobic, showcasing a gloomy castle full of shadows, whereas the forest is a place of innocence. And as our heroine Robyn ventures deeper into it, the character lines become looser and the animation even “wilder”.
To conclude the presentation, a short behind-the-scenes trailer showed designers drawing directly on location, in the county of Kilkenny, and the first step in the transformation from sketch to rough animation. It seemed to work well on the audience, who were able to grasp a small part of the essence of The Wolfwalkers, as if one could smell a little of the Irish countryside.