Date of Award

Spring 5-2021

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Film Studies

First Advisor

Dr. Nam Lee

Second Advisor

Dr. Emily Carman

Third Advisor

Prof. Dawn Fratini


Tomm Moore’s Celtic Trilogy, consisting of The Secret of Kells (2009), Song of the Sea (2014), and WolfWalkers (2020), displays an inter-medial hybridity and synergy of commercial and experimental elements that encourage a redefinition of animation with a focus on the innate qualities of fluidity in animated aesthetics. This fluidity in visual aesthetics and narratology honors the legacy of studio animation over the past century, while reintroducing technological and creative experimentation. This freedom further allows for authentic cultural (self-)representation of Celtic traditions in film.

Paralleling a history of cinematic theories by Arnheim, Cholodenko and Manovich projects a shared space for (live action) cinema and the animated film, which even predates the digital era. This discussion is complicated by the total conflation of live action and animated elements with the advent of digital cinema technology. This thesis introduces photo-realistic and iconic animation as new terminology to discuss animation with an emphasis on the visual qualities driving the medium as cinematic art form.

A thorough analysis of Moore’s Celtic Trilogy reveals an evolution of animated aesthetics throughout the films, which includes the use of Art as tool and meta-language capable of reshaping the reality of the films, and a focus on fluidity in character and world design. The digital processing space is presented as hybrid medium between physical and digital reality by reintroducing simulated physical stimuli and textures.

The culmination of the Celtic Trilogy presents animation as existential toolset to link the physical and metaphysical layers of the cinematic experience and projects the creative possibilities for animated texts of the future in a post-digital world that unites both analogue and digital art forms in a fluid interplay.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.