“Wolfwalkers” is a graphic symphony: beautiful animations where each frame seems like a painting, fluid movement and mesmerising palettes. It is a hypnotic film with a story and script to match. Tomm Moore and Ross Stewart do an excellent job of writing and directing, as they craft a story with dialogue that perfectly complements the characters and their actions.
It is the 17th century and wolves are roaming free in an Irish forest, stopping the people from the nearby city from cutting it down. The locals grow angrier and unrestful as the presence of the wolves coincides with Cromwell’s troops. Fearing a mass revolt, Oliver Cromwell (Simon McBurney) orders Bill Goodfellowe (Sean Bean), an English hunter, to get rid of all the wolves. His daughter, Robyn (Honor Kneafsey), disobeys her father’s request to stay behind the city walls, as she wants to prove her worth and ability to be a hunter in her own right. As Robyn explores the forest with her bird Merlin, she encounters a pack of wolves and one, different wolf, which turns out to be Mebh Óg MacTíre (Eva Whittaker), a girl who belongs to a fabled tribe of wolfwalkers. They are people who turn into wolves when they sleep and the locals speak of them in hushed voices, as they are thought to belong to the realm of superstition and witchcraft.
When Robyn’s bird is injured, she befriends Mebh and begins to understand the wonders of the forest, as she lets her spirit run free. However, the Lord Protector Cromwell is bent on destroying the whole population of wolves, and Robyn and her father might have to choose a side.
“Wolfwalkers” is truly spellbinding. The original score provided by Bruno Coulais and Irish folk group Kíla does a beautiful job of drawing the audience in as every note bounces off the colours and the movement of the animations.
The film intertwines themes of female empowerment, family and loneliness, the need to fit in and prejudice of the unknown. It does so seamlessly, with such smooth elegance that the script bounces off topics with ease, without lecturing or being pedantic. Cartoon Saloon (founded by Tomm Moore) co-produced this film with Dentsu Inc., the third of its instalments on Irish folklore.
“Wolfwalkers” is definitely worth watching- particularly this year when one might seek refuge in films more so than in other times. Even in a regular production year with many candidates for top awards, “Wolfwalkers” should still rake in the nominations. Let’s see how it does.