It’s rare in the world of animated art book that you have one written by the director himself! But that is just what you get with the Song of the Sea Art Book. Anyone who reads this blog knows I consider Song of the Sea to be a modern animated masterpiece so when I saw this for sale I shelled out the big bucks for it. It’s expensive but I had to have it!!
This art book is so rich I could read it for weeks and get new things out of it. It starts out with a brief introduction from art director Adrien Mericeau, head of story Nora Twomey and then director Tomm Moore. What I love is how close the team felt to these characters. Twomey says “Bit by bit, it came together, layer upon layer bound together by story, song and beauty. Once we remained true to Ben and Saoirse and thought of them as real people, everything else came into place”. You feel that closeness to the characters when you watch the film.
Tomm Moore shares how he came up with the idea for Song of the Sea when visiting a beach in Dingle with his 10 year old son Ben. “While there we came across a sea cull and I started thinking about the connection between our attitude to wildlife and our environment and the stories that once reminded us our place in the natural world”. This idea kept “percolating away in my sketchbooks and in the back of my mind”. Isn’t it great that this kind of animation is still possible? That someone can get an idea and make a movie in this day of franchises, marketing gimmicks and big budgets it’s really refreshing.
We then next get a forward by Charles Solomon. This is more like an interview with Tomm Moore sharing his approach to filmmaknig and creating Song of the Sea. It’s really cool that they have a quote from Pixar’s Pete Docter who says “Many films are noisy and manic, full of pop culture jokes; frenetically paced with wacky, manic characters that never hold still. In contrast, Song of the Sea has a quiet beauty. It is graphically gorgeous, yet simple. Best of all, the characters are well-observed and truthful. It’s a joy to watch for so many reasons.” Amen to that!
Next Moore gives tons of information about the mythological and folkloric references. It even explains the meaning behind things I just accepted as his own invention like the spirtuality of the family dog Cu. “As it is the children’s dog Cu’s moment of glory the wind takes the form of 2 Cu Sidhe, fairy dog hounds, from Scottish and Irish folklore.” I don’t know about you but I find that fascinating.
Then Moore has a QandA he did that has incredible details. This is followed by our first chapter of the book which is all about the locations they used and how they sketched what they saw. This includes both sea and cityscapes and we get beautiful color photos along with descriptions.
Next up we have a large section on the characters. This includes the concept art and inspiration for their stories. We get our main characters of course but also smaller characters like the trick-or-treaters and the owls.
Then we move on to development and production. This details the storyboarding and layouts and what had to be cut that Tomm Moore loved.
The final segment is quotes and acknowledgements and has memories and thoughts from producers, cast and crew and then ‘quotes from friends’. They have Don Hall director of Big Hero 6 who says “steeped in his country’s mythology, as well as classic animation from all over the world Tomm Moore is telling that incredibly difficult and all too rare, type of story: the personal film that is accessible to all. And he does it with style, but never at the expense of substance. In fact, the style…actually enhances the substance”. I couldn’t agree more.
The Art Book of Song of the Sea is pricey. I think it cost me $60 because I had to buy it from England but to me it is worth it. I love my book and it has made the movie even better, if that was even possible. If you can afford it I highly recommend picking it up!