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The Secret of Kells (2009)

Not Rated  |   |  Animation, Adventure, Family  |  11 February 2009 (France)
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Ratings: 7.7/10 from 20,511 users   Metascore: 81/100
Reviews: 67 user | 116 critic | 20 from Metacritic.com

A young boy in a remote medieval outpost under siege from barbarian raids is beckoned to adventure when a celebrated master illuminator arrives with an ancient book, brimming with secret wisdom and powers.




(original story), (screenplay)
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Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 7 wins & 5 nominations. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Evan McGuire ...
Brendan (voice)
Christen Mooney ...
Aisling (voice)
Abbot Cellach (voice)
Mick Lally ...
Aidan (voice)
Liam Hourican ...
Brother Tang / Leonardo (voice) (as Liam Hourrican)
Paul Tylak ...
Brother Assoua (voice) (as Paul Tylac)
Michael McGrath ...
Adult Brendan (voice)
Brother Square (voice)
Nora Twomey ...
Additional Voices and Walla (voice)
Alli McCann ...
Additional Voices and Walla (voice)
Clair Funchion ...
Additional Voices and Walla (voice)
Conor O'Halloran ...
Additional Voices and Walla (voice) (as Conor O Halloran)
Gaelle Hersent ...
Additional Voices and Walla (voice)
Marie Thorhauge ...
Additional Voices and Walla (voice)
Additional Voices and Walla (voice)


Young Brendan lives in a remote medieval outpost under siege from barbarian raids. But a new life of adventure beckons when a celebrated master illuminator arrives from the isle of Iona carrying an ancient but unfinished book, brimming with secret wisdom and powers. To help complete the magical book, Brendan has to overcome his deepest fears on a dangerous quest that takes him into the enchanted forest where mythical creatures hide. It is here that he meets the fairy Aisling, a mysterious young wolf-girl, who helps him along the way. But with the barbarians closing in, will Brendan's determination and artistic vision illuminate the darkness and show that enlightenment is the best fortification against evil? Written by GKids

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Turn the darkness into light


Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:




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Release Date:

11 February 2009 (France)  »

Also Known As:

Brendan and the Secret of Kells  »

Box Office


€6,500,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

$12,537 (USA) (5 March 2010)


$686,383 (USA) (16 July 2010)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Sound Mix:



Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?


Pangur Ban is named for a cat who appears in an 8th Century Old Irish poem written by a monk to his pet cat. Aidan (Mick Lally) can be heard reciting a condensed rendition of the poem in modern Irish in the credits. Mick Lally was a native Irish speaker though Aidan is heard speaking English throughout most of the film. See more »


Aisling: I thought you knew how to climb trees.
Brendan: I do. Smaller ones.
Aisling: [laughs] Yeah. Like *bushes*.
[Brendan glares at her]
See more »

Crazy Credits

Halfway through the credits, a poem is recited by Aidan (Mick Lally) in Irish. It is a condensed verse of the Old Irish poem 'Mise agus Pangur Bán' rewritten in modern Irish. The translated version of this verse is: Me and white Pangur, Two who relish bundles of art, Me pursuing that which does not come easy, Slippery Pangur hunts prey, Fame or repute I seek not, As I turn ink into glowing light, Little does Pangur value the words of a prophet, He would much prefer a mouse to a book. The verse is followed by Aidan calling to Pangur "Panger, do you see that in the corner!?" followed by him laughing to himself. See more »


Featured in AniMat's Classic Reviews: The Secret of Kells (2013) See more »


Written by Rossa Ó'Snodaigh
© and (P) Kíla Music Records (2000)
Performed by Kila (uncredited)
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

Gorgeous to watch, but the story is not quite there
8 January 2011 | by (United Kingdom) – See all my reviews

I love animated films, so I was interested in seeing The Secret of Kells. Overall I really liked it. However, I do not think it is perfect, the story has a lovely idea and starts off very well, however there are parts that could have been less detached and done with more development, and it could have done with less of a politically correct note(I wouldn't have minded if it was there, it just got a tad heavy-handed). Also, I think the film sags in the pace in the middle. That said, it is a very worthwhile watch. The Secret of Kells does look simply gorgeous. The backgrounds are stunning, and the character designs are unique, but I loved the picturesque watercolour-like colours most of all. Another strong asset was the music, I loved the sweet, lyrical Celtic lilt to it. There is also a stirring prologue and while the story may be detached as I've said there isn't a complete lack of emotional attatchment, you do care for the characters and there are some touching and haunting moments and the film teaches some good lessons. The characters are likable with good personalities and the voice work especially from Brendan Gleeson is excellent. Overall, while lacking a tad in the story, it is a visually and musically rewarding animated film. 7/10 Bethany Cox

12 of 14 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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