‘Wolfwalkers’ Directors Say Medieval Irish Folklore Highlights Same Fear and Division Prevalent Today (Video)

TIFF 2020: Animated feature from “The Secret of Kells” team finds parallels from modern day to 17th Century

“Wolfwalkers” directors Tomm Moore and Ross Stewart didn’t conceive of the idea for their animated, Irish folklore parable until 2013 as they were finishing their previous film “Song of the Sea.” But even though the film is set in Medieval times, the history has only become more prescient.

“Wolfwalkers” comes from the animation team at Cartoon Saloon, which developed both “Song of the Sea” and “The Secret of Kells,” both Oscar-nominated films about Irish folklore. Their latest completes a trilogy of sorts, but the directors told TheWrap that it stands alone in how it speaks to the problems of today.

“The 17th Century and sadly hundreds of years later has some similar stuff where we have our protector is a fairly recognizable strong man, autocratic leader kind of ruling with fear and division, and also the destruction of the forests for agricultural use and also to symbolically tame the indigenous people is something that we still see going on around the world, notably in Brazil at the moment,” Moore said. “Sadly the themes that we read about in the history of the time period were relevant.”

“Wolfwalkers” is the story of a young apprentice hunter who journeys to Ireland with her father to wipe out the last wolf pack, only to befriend a girl who is part of a tribe that can transform into wolves by night, making her question her father’s intentions.

Moore and Stewart said the story is based on the real history of how England had made wolves extinct in Ireland as a symbolic reminder of England’s control over Ireland.

“We kind of thought there was a germ of a story there, so it kind of came just from chatting about all those elements, putting them all in a pot, stirring them up, and we went through various iterations and stories of the script before we finally went into production,” Moore added.

The film though stands out for its eye-popping, hand-drawn animation, which seems to combine various styles of animation within every single frame.

“We could use this movie to pack in everything we learned making ‘The Secret of Kells’ and ‘Song of the Sea,'” Moore said.

“Wolfwalkers” stars the voice talent of Honor Kneafsey, Eva Whitaker, Sean Bean, Simon McBurney, Tommy Tiernan, Jon Kenny, John Morton and Maria Doyle Kennedy, and the film will debut later this year on Apple TV+.

Check out the interview with Moore and Stewart above.