from FREDERICKSBRG, TX
Reviewed on 5/9/2015...
I loved "The Secret of Roan Inish"...five stars for the story, the scenery, and the acting!
"The Secret of Roan Inish" is a wonderful combination for both children and adults, of legend and history.
The story begins with a family tragedy during WWII, as a small Irish village is forced to evacuate their small home island very quickly, due to the expectation of enemy bombers, and in the rush, a baby is swept into the ocean and lost at sea.
After fruitless searching, the family must rejoin the evacuation, moving to the mainland, where they find new homes and work, and start a new life, even amidst the mayhem and destruction of war.
The family grieved for their lost child, but as many people were grieving at that time for lost loved ones, and life in wartime is hard, the special grief of a very young girl for the loss of her baby brother went unnoticed, and she began to live in her own childish world, assuring herself that the Silkies, the magical half-human seals would take care of her lost brother.
(In Irish and Scottish folk tales, seals (who have a very sweet and human appearance to them at times) can magically change back and forth between being human and being seals, and in the Silkie legends, it's common for a male Silkie to turn into a human for one night, "lie with a maiden" and then return years later to take his human offspring back to the sea.)
So as the child regresses more into her magical thoughts, the children of the uprooted village become involved in a secret project that pulls her more into reality.
As fishermen's children, they are very at home in boats, and are often gone for hours with no supervision, and what their parents don't know, is that the children have been rowing or sailing out to their previous island home, the collection of abandoned cottages that have fallen into total disrepair after being abandoned during the war.
The children decide to rebuild their cottages, in hopes of convincing their parents to move back to their previous life, and that was so much fun to watch, and was probably historically accurate, as to how to build walls and roofs out of natural materials, and make them weather-proof to fit the harsh northern Irish weather.
Meanwhile, of course, our heart is with the young sister, still hoping against hope, that her baby brother will reappear out of the waves, after all these years. Childhood innocence and magical thinking, fighting with an adult's awareness of reality.
This story is enjoyable on so many levels, and like a good Irish tale should, has such depth to the story, moving us from sad to happy to touching, from anxious to insightful to playful.
I first saw "The Secret of Roan Inish" in the mid-nineties, in an art theater, and it has stood out in my memory all this time as a shining little jewel of a movie, that always made me smile to think of it.
If you like a good family-style movie (so rare these days) that is magical, uplifting, and heart-warming, search for this little jewel!
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