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SONG OF THE SEA is an Irish animated feature about a young boy and his younger sister who go on a magical journey to return to their father in their home by the sea. Filled with Irish folklore and Christian references, SONG OF THE SEA is a beautifully crafted animated feature, but the story isn’t always clear and caution is advised for some of the movie’s magical elements.
The story begins with a little boy named Ben’s beautiful mother dying or leaving the family’s lighthouse home after the birth of Ben’s sister, Saoirse (“Seer-sha”). Several years later, Ben blames his sister for his mother’s mysterious disappearance. Ben is also upset because the mother’s disappearance has affected Saoirse, who can’t or refuses to talk.
When the children seem to be threatened by the magical sea near the lighthouse, their grandmother convinces the father to let them come live with her in the city. However, the grandmother refuses to allow the children to bring their dog.
Once they arrive at their grandmother’s scary house, Ben decides they should return to their father. So, he and his sister run away to travel the long distance back home. Along the way, they encounter magical creatures and learn that their mother is a selkie, a mythological creature who lives as a seal in the ocean but becomes human on the land when they fall in love with a human. Also, Ben’s sister is a half-selkie. She must reunite with her seal coat back home so she can save the fairy creatures, who are turning to stone because of the modern world, which has rejected both the world of magic and Ireland’s Christian heritage.
SONG OF THE SEA is beautifully crafted, but the story becomes confusing at several points. For example, in addition to the stories about the selkies and about the fairy world, the movie introduces stories about Mac Lir, a tragic sea deity in Irish folklore. The mixture is too complex and confusing, especially when the movie also adds some strong references to Ireland’s Christian heritage. Furthermore, it’s hard to identify with Ben, who clearly cares about his sister, but who can be annoying in the gruff way he sometimes treats her.
Ultimately, however, the story has redemptive qualities that make it worthwhile, including some overtly positive Christian references and positive family outcomes. Still, caution is warranted for children because of the movie’s magical elements and references to pagan mythology.

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