One of the year’s finest animated features is also one of its most technically impressive, as directors Tomm Moore and Ross Stewart’s animated Irish folktale “Wolfwalkers” is hand-drawn. That’s rare in the days of CGI, and fitting for the case of this mystical period adventure about two young girls saving the hunted wolf population of Kilkenny (home of animation house Cartoon Saloon) in the mid 17th century. The movie launches in theaters on November 13 from GKIDS, before heading to Apple TV+ on December 11. Watch the full trailer below.
The third installment of the Irish folklore trilogy from Cartoon Saloon — co-founded by Moore — fulfills the promise of “The Secret of Kells” and “Song of the Sea.” Both those films were nominated for the Best Animated Feature Academy Award, and “Wolfwalkers,” following huge buzz at the Toronto International Film Festival, looks to be headed in that direction.
“Wolves are important to Irish folklore,” Moore told IndieWire. His co-director Stewart is the recently promoted art director of Cartoon Saloon. “They are associated with the countryside and with human transformation. As teenagers, both Scott and I were familiar with a story of the wolf people of Ossory. We borrowed [some of that mythology] but took our own artistic license. The wolf was seen as a person and a partner, an apex predator, rather than a monster, that we had to fight against, and that was really inspiring to us.”
From IndieWire’s rave review of the film: “With ‘Wolfwalkers’ — the final installment of the studio’s informal trilogy of films about Irish folklore — Cartoon Saloon has realized its true potential at last. Far and away the best animated film of the year so far (one worthy of such hosannas no matter how limited the competition has been), this heartfelt tale of love and loss is the most visually enchanting feature its studio has made thus far, as well as the most poignant…The animation isn’t just pretty, but also smart and active and even synesthetic in how it visualizes scent when Robyn turns into a wolf (wolfvision assumes an awesome, trippy black light aesthetic that could set kids on a path towards Pink Floyd fandom if their parents aren’t careful).”