Tomm Moore: Underated Animation


Tomm Moore is an Irish filmmaker, illustrator and comic artist. Many of his works focus on the history of Ireland and folklore, and include style influence from storybooks. This style is seen in almost all of his work, especially in his work aimed towards children like the show Puffin Rock, which is currently on Netflix.

His first works were in television (Under the Hawthorn Tree) and in comics (An Sclábhaí ("the slave", 2001);An Teachtaire ("the messenger", 2003)) both of which retail the story of St. Patrick. In his final year of college, he founded the animation studio Cartoon Saloon with Nora Twomey and Paul Young. In 2009, Moore and Nora Twomey released their first film The Secret of the Kells. This film is traditionally hand drawn, as is typical for Moore’s artwork, and is inspired by early Christian history and myth. A boy who is more inclined to the arts than he is battle, which does not sit well with an uncle who is doing all he can to protect his town from viking attacks, is enlisted to completea magical book. As is common in Moore’s work, this film won many awards, including the Roy E. Disney award at the 2D or Not 2D Film Festival in Seattle and the Audience Award at the Annecy International Animated Film Festival (2009 and 2008 respectively). This first film sets the tone most of his films have: magical and wise .

source: The Secret of the Kells Wikipedia page

Family features heavily as a theme in all of his works, such as the relationship between father and son focused on in The Secret of the Kells. In 2014, Moore was involved in two films: The Prophet and The Song of the Sea. The Prophet is based on the novel by Kahlil Gibran of the same name and utilizes different animation styles to properly convey the tone and emotion of the film in a stunning way. In this story, a poet, painter, activist and foreigner named Mustafa is imprisoned by the army. His life is threatened because of the art he creates, and in the end he refuses to renounce what he has written. In 2015, The Prophet was awarded the Animation Award at the WIFTS Foundation Visionary Awards through Salma Hayek, the producer and a voice actor.  

source: (

Also released in 2014 was The Song of the Sea, my personal favorite. The Song of the Sea is about a brother and sister who have to move away from the ocean and to their grandmothers house. Like her mother, the sister Saoirse (sore-sha)  is a selkie, a mythical creature that can transform from human to seal. Saoirse is the last selkie and begins to grow sick from being away from the ocean and her seal coat, which she needs to transform into a seal. Her and her brother Ben start to find their way home all while avoiding a witch that can steal a person’s emotions. This film stays in one style, the classic two-dimensional storybook-like art. The focus on family makes another appearance, touching on how a parent no longer being there can affect children differently, as well as how it affects adults. Relationships between parents and children are prevalent in this film, from the grandmother and her son who takes the disappearance of his wife hard, to the fathers relationship with his own son and daughter. The most detailed relationship is between the siblings, Ben and Saoirse, and is the most important. Ben feels contempt towards his little sister, mostly because he associates his mother leaving with her birth and also receives less attention from his father because of his little sister and a few of the problems she has. Saoirse constantly tries for approval from her brother and it takes the understanding of what Saoirse is and their journey home for the siblings to get close. The Song of the Sea truly dissects and presents familial relations in a way that people of all ages can understand and is paired with beautiful animation is what makes it easy to see why it was nominated for for Best Animated Feature at the 87th Academy Awards and why it won Best Animated Feature Film at the 28th European Film Awards and three other Best Animated Feature Awards.

source: The Song of the Sea Wikipedia page 

The film Moore most recently worked on was released in 2017 and has a deeper emotional focus than his other works might seem to have. The Breadwinner, which won the most awards of the films made by Cartoon Saloon, is about a little girl who disguises herself as a boy in order to find work to help her family. Due to the Soviet-Afghan War, Parvana (the main character) has a father with a physical handicap from his time fighting and she watches him get unjustly arrested by Taliban forces. With no male figure in their lives anymore to support them financially, it is up to Parvana to help supply her family with money and food. This is the most modern film out of the four that cartoon saloon has released, in the sense that this is the most based on real life.  

Tomm Moore’s films are beautiful combinations of different animation styles based on stories the viewer should take to heart. Very little of his work gets attention from main stream and it really deserves more than this. The Prophet, The Song of the Sea and The Breadwinner can all be found on Netflix. The Secret of Kells no longer on the website but can be found on Amazon. Tomm Moore and Cartoon Saloon constantly create amazing content and stunning artwork, and thankfully, there will be more from him soon, as work began on another lore based film, Wolfwalkers, in 2017.




Tomm Moore

Secret of the Kells


The Prophet


The Song of the Sea

Picture and Information

The Breadwinner