Song of the Sea (2014 film)

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Song of the Sea
Song of the Sea (2014 film) poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed byTomm Moore
Produced by
  • Tomm Moore[1]
  • Ross Murray[1]
  • Paul Young[1]
  • Stephan Roelants[1]
  • Serge Ume[1]
  • Marc Ume[1]
  • Isabelle Truc[1]
  • Clement Calvet[1]
  • Jeremie Fajner[1]
  • Frederik Villumsen[1]
  • Claus Toksvig Kjaer[1]
Screenplay byWill Collins[1]
Story byTomm Moore
Music by
Edited by
Distributed by
  • StudioCanal (Ireland)
  • O'Brother Distribution (Belgium)
  • Haut et Court (France)
Release date
  • 6 September 2014 (2014-09-06) (TIFF)
  • 10 December 2014 (2014-12-10) (France/Belgium/Luxembourg)
  • 19 February 2015 (2015-02-19) (Denmark)
  • 10 July 2015 (2015-07-10) (Ireland)
Running time
94 minutes[2]
BudgetUS$7.5 million
Box officeUS$4.1 million[4]

Song of the Sea (Irish: Amhrán na Mara) is a 2014 animated fantasy film directed and co-produced by Tomm Moore, co-produced by Ross Murray, Paul Young, Stephen Roelants, Serge and Marc Ume, Isabelle Truc, Clement Calvet, Jeremie Fajner, Frederik Villumsen, and Claus Toksvig Kjaer, and written by Will Collins from Moore's story. It was an international co-production from Ireland, Belgium, Denmark, France, and Luxembourg, and is the second feature film by Cartoon Saloon.

Song of the Sea follows the story of a 10-year-old Irish boy named Ben (David Rawle) who discovers that his mute sister Saoirse, whom he blames for the apparent death of his mother, is a selkie who has to free faerie creatures from the Celtic goddess Macha.

Like other Saloon films, the film was hand-drawn. The film began production soon after the release of The Secret of Kells (2009), premiered at the 2014 Toronto International Film Festival on 6 September in the "TIFF Kids" programme.[5] The film had a limited release in certain countries, but received acclaim and was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature at the 87th Academy Awards in 2015.[6][7]

The Irish-language version has been produced by Macalla with funding from TG4 and the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland, with selected cinemas in Ireland screening it from 10 July 2015[8][9]. Brendan Gleeson and Fionnula Flanagan reprised their respective roles in this version. The DVD with the Irish audio can be bought in Cartoon Saloon's online store[10].


Conor, a lighthouse keeper, lives on an island with son Ben, his pregnant wife Bronagh, and sheepdog Cú. Bronagh disappears late one night, presumably dying after childbirth, leaving behind daughter Saoirse.

Six years later, Conor is broken, Saoirse is mute, and Ben is antagonistic to Saoirse, blaming her for Bronagh's disappearance. On Saoirse's birthday, they are visited by their grandmother, "Granny". That night, Ben scares Saoirse with a story of Mac Lir and his mother Macha, the Owl Witch, who stole his feelings and turned him to stone. Later, Saoirse plays a seashell horn given to Ben by their mother, leading her to a white sealskin coat in Conor's closet. She wears the coat and walks to a group of seals in the sea, revealing her as a selkie. After swimming, she is found by Granny, who insists upon taking the children to the city. Conor reluctantly agrees despite Ben's protests, and locks the coat in a chest, throwing it into the sea.

On Halloween, Saoirse plays the seashell, alerting Færie to her. She and Ben attempt to go home, but encounter the Færie, hopeful that Saoirse will allow them to return to Tír na nÓg. However, they are attacked by Macha's owls, turning the Færie to stone. They take a country bus, a run into Cú, who had followed them. However, Saoirse is growing ill. They come across a sacred well that Saoirse dives into. Ben follows and meets the Great Seanachaí: They learn Saoirse was kidnapped by Macha, and she is mute because she needs the coat, otherwise she will soon die. He gives Ben one of his hairs that will lead him to Macha. As he follows the hair, it shows him that Bronagh – a selkie herself – was forced to return to the ocean when Saoirse was born.

Ben then meets Macha, who explains that when Mac Lir suffered from a broken heart, she turned him into an island near their home. She is determined to do the same for everyone, even herself. Ben manages to rescue Saoirse, giving Macha back her feelings and allowing her to recognize that taking away feelings doesn't help. She helps to fly them back home, and Conor attempts to take Saoirse to a hospital; simultaneously, Granny is near the island to find them. Ben dives into the sea in search of Saoirse's coat, and recovers it with the seals and Conor. The group is then washed up on Mac Lir's island. Saoirse's coat is put on but her health is not fully restored. Ben tries to get Saoirse to sing, and she eventually sings the Song of the Sea. The song causes the Færie to rise and travel to Mac Lir. Mac Lir is transformed back into his original form and continues with Macha, his dogs and the Faeries back home to Tír na nÓg.

Bronagh appears preparing to depart with Saoirse, but Ben pleads to let her stay with them. Since she is half-human, the choice rests with Saoirse, who elects to remain behind with her father and brother, even though it means giving up her selkie powers and becoming fully human. Accepting her daughter's decision, Bronagh takes her coat, Ben asks Bronagh to stay as well but she is unable to. After a tearful farewell, Ben and his family happily return home to their island, where Granny finally arrives, and decides the children can stay with their father. Ben and Saoirse reconcile and become friends.

Voice cast[edit]




Song Of The Sea
Soundtrack album by
Released1 January 2014 (2014-01-01)
GenreFilm score
LabelUniversal Music Group

The original music for the film was composed by Bruno Coulais, in collaboration with the Irish group Kíla. The film also features the voice of Lisa Hannigan and songs by Nolwenn Leroy. A soundtrack album, consisting of 25 songs from the film, was released digitally on 9 December 2014 by Decca Records.[13]

Track listing
Song of the Sea (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)
1."Song of the Sea" (performed by Lisa Hannigan)2:42
2."The Mother's Portrait"2:26
3."The Sea Scene"2:42
4."The Song" (performed by Lisa Hannigan and Lucy O' Connell)5:16
5."The Key in the Sea"0:59
6."The Derry Tune"1:58
7."In the Streets"1:05
8."Dance with the Fish"2:05
9."The Seals"0:45
10."Something Is Wrong" (performed by Lisa Hannigan)2:04
12."Head Credits" (performed by Lisa Hannigan)1:44
13."Get Away"1:18
17."I Hate You"1:33
18."Who Are You"1:19
19."The Storm"1:55
20."Katy's Tune"3:30
21."In the Bus" (performed by Lisa Hannigan)0:44
22."The Thread" (performed by Lisa Hannigan)2:24
23."Amhrán Na Farraige" (performed by Lisa Hannigan)2:45
24."Song of the Sea (Lullaby) (From "Song of the Sea")" (performed by Nolwenn Leroy)3:46
25."La chanson de la mer (berceuse) (Extrait du film "Le chant de la mer")" (performed by Nolwenn Leroy)3:47
Total length:54:02


Song of the Sea premiered at the 2014 Toronto International Film Festival on 6 September 2014 in the TIFF Kids program.[5] Theatrically, it was released in France, Belgium and Luxembourg on 10 December 2014.[14] It received a limited release in North America on 19 December 2014, which qualified it for an Academy Award nomination.[15] It was released in Ireland on 10 July 2015.[16]


Box office[edit]

The film has grossed CN¥15 million in China[17] and US$857,522 in the United States and Canada.[18]

Critical response[edit]

Early reviews were overwhelmingly positive. Todd Brown, founder and editor of Twitch Film, gave a highly positive review of the film, saying that "a tale that weds absolutely gorgeous artwork with beautifully nuanced characters and a deep but natural rooting in ancient folk tales and magic, Song of the Sea has an assured and timeless quality to it. It is the sort of story that feels as though it always existed somewhere, just waiting until now to be told". "Song of the Sea is not about selling units, it's about story and heart and emotion and wonder and craftsmanship and because of that it becomes timeless, a beautiful piece of art that will delight audiences old and young and confirms what many suspected of Moore after Kells: The man's a master storyteller, and we can only hope he has many, many more stories to tell."[19]

On review aggregation website Rotten Tomatoes, the film has a score of 99% and an average rating of 8.4/10 based on 88 reviews.[20] On Metacritic the film has a score of 85 out of 100, from 24 reviews.[21]

Writing in the Toronto Review, Carlos Aguilar said of the film: "Watching Song of the Sea it is easy to assert that this is one of the most blissfully beautiful animated films ever made. It is a gem beaming with awe-inspiring, heartwarming magic".[22]

Sara Stewart from the New York Post said "If you want some real cinematic magic this holiday season, don’t miss this enchanting Irish film about a pair of siblings and a piece of Celtic folklore that turns out to be true".[23]

An animator Ken Priebe found in the film a lot of influence of Hayao Miyazaki, in particular, the scene on the bus is similar to the scene on the train from Spirited Away, and the owl witch looks like Yubaba from the same film.[24]


Year Award Category Recipients Results
2014 Festival International des Voix du Cinéma d'Animation (Port Leucate, France)[25] Prix Spécial du Jury Song of the Sea Won
2015 42nd Annual Annie Awards[26] Best Animated Feature Tomm Moore, Paul Young Nominated
Character Design in an Animated Feature Production Tomm Moore, Marie Thorhauge, Sandra Anderson, Rosa Ballester Cabo Nominated
Directing in an Animated Feature Production Tomm Moore Nominated
Music in a Feature Production Bruno Coulais & Kíla Nominated
Production Design in an Animated Feature Production Adrien Merigeau Nominated
Writing in an Animated Feature Production Will Collins Nominated
Editorial in an Animated Feature Production Darragh Byrne Nominated
19th Satellite Awards[27] Best Animated or Mixed Media Feature Song of the Sea Won
40th César Awards[28] Best Animated Feature Film Song of the Sea Nominated
87th Academy Awards[29] Best Animated Feature Song of the Sea Nominated
12th Irish Film & Television Awards[30] Best Film Song of the Sea Won
Best Film Script Will Collins Nominated
28th European Film Awards[31] Best Animated Feature Film Song of the Sea Won
2016 6th Magritte Awards[32] Best Foreign Film in Coproduction Song of the Sea Nominated
21st Empire Awards[33][34] Best Animated Film Song of the Sea Nominated

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z aa ab ac ad Debruge, Peter (21 September 2014). "Film Review: 'Song of the Sea'". Variety. Retrieved 24 November 2015.
  2. ^ "SONG OF THE SEA (PG)". British Board of Film Classification. 3 June 2015. Retrieved 4 June 2015.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o Debruge, Peter (21 September 2014). "Film Review: 'Song of the Sea'". Variety. Retrieved 14 December 2014.
  4. ^ "Song of the Sea (2014) - International Box Office Results". Box Office Mojo. Internet Movie Database. Retrieved 30 April 2015.
  5. ^ a b Wolfe, Jennifer (19 August 2014). "Cartoon Saloon's 'Song of the Sea' to Premiere at TIFF". Animation World Network. Retrieved 21 August 2014.
  6. ^ "Awards Season: Irish film Song of the Sea nominated for Oscar". Scannain. 15 January 2015. Retrieved 15 January 2015.
  7. ^ "Irish film Song of the Sea nominated for Oscar". Scannain. 15 January 2015. Retrieved 15 January 2015.
  8. ^ "Scannán as Gaelige: Amhrán na Mara/Song of the Sea to be released in Irish". Beochan. 2015-06-04. Retrieved 2018-08-16.
  9. ^ "12.02.15 | TG4". TG4. Retrieved 2018-08-16.
  10. ^ Saloon, Cartoon. "Song of the Sea DVD". Cartoon Saloon. Retrieved 2018-08-16.
  11. ^ a b Monji, Jana (20 November 2014). "AFI FEST 2014: HAUNTING STORIES FROM ABROAD". Roger Ebert. Retrieved 27 November 2014.
  12. ^ a b Her name is spelt as "Bronach" in the credits.
  13. ^ "'Song of the Sea' Soundtrack Details". Film Music Reporter. 8 November 2014. Retrieved 16 October 2015.
  14. ^ "European Release of Song of the Sea". Cartoon Saloon. 10 December 2014. Archived from the original on 27 December 2014. Retrieved 10 December 2014.
  15. ^ "GKIDS Announces North American Release Date for 'Song of the Sea'". Animation World Network. 25 August 2014. Retrieved 4 January 2015.
  16. ^ "Irish Animation 'Song of the Sea' Wins a Satellite Award in the Run Up to the Oscars". Irish Film Board. 17 February 2015. Archived from the original on 2 April 2015. Retrieved 17 February 2015.
  17. ^ "海洋之歌(2016)". (in Chinese). Retrieved August 24, 2016.
  18. ^ "Song of the Sea". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved August 17, 2016.
  19. ^ Brown, Todd (7 September 2014). "Toronto 2014 Review: SONG OF THE SEA Is A Timeless Delight For All Ages". Twitch Film. Archived from the original on 7 September 2014. Retrieved 7 September 2014.
  20. ^ "Song of the Sea". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango Media. Retrieved 6 March 2016.
  21. ^ "Song of the Sea Reviews". Metacritic. CBS Interactive. Retrieved 1 August 2015.
  22. ^ Aguilar, Carlos (7 September 2014). "Toronto Review: "Song of the Sea" is a Blissfully Beautiful Journey Into Irish Folklore". Toronto Review. Retrieved 14 December 2014.
  23. ^ "'Song of the Sea' is this season's animated masterpiece - New York Post". Retrieved April 13, 2016.
  24. ^ Overstreet, Jeffrey (18 March 2015). "Song of the Sea (2014): A Conversation With Animator and Author Ken Priebe". Retrieved 25 January 2017.
  25. ^ "un Prix spécial du Jury a été attribué au Chant de la mer de Tomm Moore". 27 October 2014. Archived from the original on 27 October 2014. Retrieved 27 October 2014.
  26. ^ "42nd Annual Annie Award Nominees". Retrieved December 1, 2014.
  27. ^ Pond, Steve (December 1, 2014). "'Birdman' Leads Satellite Awards Nominations". Yahoo!. Retrieved February 1, 2015.
  28. ^ "César nominations 2015". 29 January 2015. Archived from the original on 29 January 2015. Retrieved 29 January 2015.
  29. ^ "Oscars 2015: nominations in full". 15 January 2015. Retrieved 15 January 2015.
  30. ^ "The IFTA 2015 Winners' List". May 24, 2015. Retrieved May 25, 2015.
  31. ^ "European Film Awards Winners 2015: Paolo Sorrentino's 'Youth' Scoops Best Film, Director & Actor For Michael Caine". Deadline.
  32. ^ "Magritte du cinéma : pluie de nominations pour Jaco van Dormael et Savina Dellicour". Le Soir (in French). January 12, 2016. Retrieved January 13, 2016.
  33. ^ Nugent, John. "Jameson Empire Awards 2016: Star Wars and Mad Max lead the nominations". Empire. Retrieved 2016-03-15.
  34. ^, Rebecca Lewis for. "Mad Max: Fury Road leads the pack at the 2016 Jameson Empire Awards". Metro. Retrieved 2016-03-15.

External links[edit]