Wolfwalkers premieres on Apple TV+ December 11th, 2020
The year is 1650, the place Kilkenny, Ireland. Here Oliver Cromwell’s puritanical and violent subjugation of the Irish people is underway, with villages controlled through the iron-like grip while the English grow new towns by destroying the ancient woodland. Here, we meet Bill (Sean Bean), a robust, northern English man dispatched to Kilkenny with his young daughter Robyn (Honor Kneafsey). Bill’s mission is simple; he must rid the woods surrounding their growing settlement of the native Irish wolf. Robyn is desperate to join her father on the hunt, training with her bow and arrow at every opportunity. However, deep in the forests surrounding the village, ancient magic survives in the form of a mother and her young daughter.
Wolfwalkers are humans who can transform into wolves and protect the forest at all costs—protecting their ancient magic from the human desire for destruction. But when the Lord Protector announces “That which cannot be tamed, must be destroyed“, can a lonely and isolated young wolfwalker Mebh (Eva Whittaker) and the daughter of a wolf hunter build an unlikely union?
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From the Kilkenny based studio of Cartoon Saloon, the creative force behind The Secret of Kells, Song of the Sea and The Breadwinner, Wolfwalkers is a beautiful, engaging and thoughtful slice of folklore and fantasy. Here the hand-drawn animation wraps the audience in a living and breathing watercolour, one where there are no CGI tricks and no digital effects action. Instead, Wolfwakers places its adventure-laden story and full-bodied characters centre stage in a story of diversity, humanity and acceptance built around the subjugation of Ireland and the destruction of its cultural heritage under Cromwell.
The result is an animated adventure where every scene is thoughtfully constructed, every character bold and engaging and every second engrossing. Many will understandably compare Wolfwalkers with the work of Japan’s Studio Ghibli, but this story is firmly rooted in Irish folklore and art – a dreamlike beauty surrounding every frame. Wolfwalkers is undoubtedly one of the best-animated films of the year. Its intelligent screenplay is accessible to all ages, while its themes talk about the need to protect, heal and value the natural world around us.