Inspired by the Irish legend of the selkies, “Song of the Sea” brings to life the story of Saoirse, a child who is born with a precious gift; she is the last of the selkies (magical creatures who are half mortal and half fairy). With the help of her brother, Ben, Saoirse must embark on a journey to break the spell of a malevolent enchantress named Macha before the fairy world vanishes forever.
One of the most powerful themes in the film is the bond between mother and daughter. This theme is illustrated beautifully with Saoirse and her mother, Bronagh.
When Saoirse is born, Bronagh returns to the sea, leaving her daughter behind wrapped in her magical selkie coat. When Saoirse finds her mother’s coat years later, she is magically transformed into a selkie and her soul is momentarily set free as she swims with the seals in the sea. When a tragic twist of fate causes Saoirse’s father to cast her selkie coat into the sea, Saoirse is trapped in her human form. She is unable to speak, and her hair begins to turn white as the essence of her soul is taken from her.
When Saoirse’s brother, Ben, meets Seanachai, one of the fairies, he warns Ben that the fate of all of the fairies is connected to his sister, and in order to save both her and the fairies, Saoirse must be reunited with her selkie coat. If she’s not reunited with the coat, the magic will soon be extinguished and she will die. He goes on to say that because she is the last of the selkies, if Saoirse fails to sing the song of the sea and free them from Macha’s curse, the fairies will be trapped in the human world and unable to return home.
When Saoirse sings her song and breaks Macha’s curse, her song not only restores Saoirse’s life, but it also frees the fairies and allows Saoirse and her mother to be reunited. At this moment, Saoirse faces a heartbreaking choice; does she go with her mother to the fairy realm or does she remain with her family as a human child? In the end, Bronagh makes the ultimate sacrifice for her daughter. She tells Saoirse that if she takes her daughter’s coat, their worlds will be untangled and Saoirse can remain with her family in the human world. She loves Saoirse enough to let her go; even though doing so would mean she would never see her daughter again.
“Song of the Sea” is quite possibly one of the most extraordinary films that I have ever seen. The perfect marriage of stunning hand-drawn animation and a breathtaking musical score makes this one of the most beautiful films that I have seen in recent memory. The casting for this film is absolutely flawless and the story is both poignant and unique. If you enjoy Irish folklore, then this is film you won’t want to miss.