Wolfwalkers

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Wolfwalkers
Wolfwalkers.png
U.S. theatrical release poster
Directed by
Produced by
Screenplay byWill Collins[5][2]
Story by
  • Tomm Moore
  • Ross Stewart
Starring
Music by
Edited by
Production
companies
Distributed by
  • Wildcard (Ireland and United Kingdom)
  • Haut et Court (France)[6]
Release date
  • 12 September 2020 (2020-09-12) (TIFF)[2]
  • 2 December 2020 (2020-12-02) (Ireland)
  • 11 December 2020 (2020-12-11) (Apple TV+)[5]
  • 16 December 2020 (2020-12-16) (France)[6]
Running time
103 minutes[1][2] " />[6]
Countries
LanguageEnglish[2]
Budget€10 million[7]
Box office$229,041[8]

Wolfwalkers is a 2020 animated fantasy adventure film directed by Tomm Moore and Ross Stewart.[5][9][4] The film is the third and final installment in Moore's "Irish Folklore Trilogy", following his previous films The Secret of Kells (2009) and Song of the Sea (2014).[10] An international co-production[1][2][3][4] led by Cartoon Saloon and Mélusine Productions,[5][4] the film premiered at the 2020 Toronto International Film Festival on September 12[11] and was released theatrically in the United Kingdom on October 26,[12] in the United States and Canada on November 13,[13] and in Ireland on December 2. It was released digitally on Apple TV+ on December 11, 2020 to critical acclaim.[6][14][15]

Wolfwalkers follows the story of Robyn Goodfellowe, a young apprentice hunter who arrives in Ireland with her father during a time of superstition and magic to wipe out the last wolf pack. While exploring the forbidden lands outside the city walls, Robyn befriends a free-spirited girl, Mebh, a member of a mysterious tribe rumored to have the ability to turn into wolves by night. As they search for Mebh’s missing mother, Robyn uncovers a secret that draws her further into the enchanted world of the Wolfwalkers and risks turning into the very thing her father is tasked to destroy.

The film stars the voices of Honor Kneafsey, Eva Whittaker, Sean Bean, Simon McBurney, Maria Doyle Kennedy, Tommy Tiernan, Jon Kenny and John Morton. It won several awards including the Satellite Award for Best Animated or Mixed Media Feature and five Annie Awards including Best Director for Moore and Stewart and Best Independent Animated Feature. It also received the nominations for Best Animated Feature Film at the Academy Awards, Golden Globe Awards and BAFTA Awards.[16][17]

Plot[edit]

In Ireland in 1650, the residents of the town of Kilkenny are working to clear the nearby woods under orders from the authoritarian Lord Protector Oliver Cromwell, putting them at odds with a wolf pack. English hunter Bill Goodfellowe, with his rebellious daughter Robyn, has been summoned to Kilkenny by Cromwell to exterminate the wolves. Wanting to help Bill, Robyn secretly follows him out of town with her pet falcon, Merlyn. After accidentally shooting Merlyn with her crossbow while trying to kill a wolf, Robyn watches a mysterious girl take him into the woods and follows them. Upon finding Merlyn, miraculously healed, a young wolf startles her into a trap. As the wolf frees Robyn, she tries to fight it, causing it to bite her. Merlyn and the wolf lead Robyn to the wolves' den, where she discovers the wolf is the same girl from earlier. The girl, Mebh, explains she is a “wolfwalker”, whose spirit becomes a wolf when she sleeps. Robyn comes to befriend Mebh, and also learns that her dormant mother Moll's spirit has not yet returned in her search for a new home for their pack. Returning home, Robyn tries to convince Bill of the existence of wolfwalkers, but he instead scolds her for going into the forest.

The next morning, while working at the scullery as ordered by Cromwell, Robyn is drawn into his chambers by a mysterious voice coming from a concealed cage, but is ushered out by the head maid. That night, as she sleeps, Robyn discovers her soul has left her body and become a wolf as a result of Mebh's bite, thus turning her into a wolfwalker. Robyn returns to the woods where Mebh helps her get accustomed to her new form. Upon returning to Kilkenny, Robyn infiltrates Cromwell's manor. She finds Moll inside the cage, who tells Robyn that Mebh and the pack must leave the forest, as Cromwell plans to burn it to wipe them out. Cromwell, seeking to restore control of the town, assures the townspeople he can tame the wolf he's captured, and by extension, nature itself. He ignores Robyn's pleas to let Moll go and demotes Bill for failing to eliminate the wolves.

Fearing separation from each other, Robyn and Bill tend to their duties. Mebh, having waited for Robyn to return on a promise from the previous night, enters Kilkenny. She finds Robyn, who attempts to relay her mother's warning, but Mebh, hurt by Robyn's refusal to help rescue her mother out of concern for her safety, resolves to do it alone. Cromwell presents the captured Moll before the townspeople. An enraged Mebh attempts to free her, and when Bill restrains her, Moll bites him. Mebh flees, but she vows to return with her pack to rescue her mother. Cromwell orders Bill to kill Moll, and leads his army to burn the forest down. Robyn protects Moll from Bill, then frees and reunites her with Mebh before she and her pack can attack Kilkenny, earning Mebh's forgiveness. Bill follows them and shoots Moll, causing Moll's wolf form to become a spirit and return to her human form in the den, with Robyn, Mebh, and the wolves following it. Cromwell and his army arrive and begin razing the forest. As Mebh works to heal a grievously wounded Moll, Robyn and the pack stall the soldiers. Mebh summons Robyn and her pack back, realizing she needs them present to heal Moll, but Robyn is knocked unconscious after disabling the army's cannon. Before Cromwell can kill her, Bill, due to Moll's bite, becomes a wolfwalker to protect Robyn and overpowers Cromwell who then lets himself fall to his death.

Robyn and Bill return to the den and help Mebh revive Moll, and accept her invitation to stay with the pack and embrace their new identities as wolfwalkers. They set off west with their pack to find a new home.

Voice cast[edit]

  • Honor Kneafsey as Robyn Goodfellowe, a young apprentice hunter and Bill's daughter.
  • Eva Whittaker as Mebh Óg MacTíre, an adventurous wolfwalker and Moll's daughter.
  • Sean Bean as Bill Goodfellowe, a hunter and Robyn's father.
  • Simon McBurney as Lord Protector Oliver Cromwell, a zealous general and statesman ruling Ireland.
  • Maria Doyle Kennedy as Moll MacTíre, a wolfwalker, the leader of the wolf pack, and Mebh's mother.
  • Tommy Tiernan as Seán Óg, a woodcutter who believes in the existence of the wolfwalkers after they heal him.
  • Jon Kenny as Ned Stringy
  • John Morton as Stumpy
  • Paul Young as Sheep Farmer
  • Nora Twomey as Bridget, the head housekeeper of the Lord Protector's scullery.
  • Oliver McGrath as Padraig, a young bully in the town of Kilkenny.
  • Niamh Moyles as Fishmonger

Production[edit]

On September 8, 2018, Apple acquired Tomm Moore and Ross Stewart's Wolfwalkers from a script by Will Collins.[18] The film is an original concept that was created by Moore and Stewart, and its animation uses a unique 2D style alternating between a woodblock aesthetic and loose expressive line work.[14][15]

Music[edit]

Moore's frequent collaborators, Bruno Coulais and folk group Kíla, provided the film's original score.[19] Norwegian singer-songwriter Aurora contributed to the soundtrack with a re-recorded version of her single "Running with the Wolves".[20][21]

Release[edit]

The film had its world premiere at the 2020 Toronto International Film Festival on 12 September 2020.[22][23]

It was released theatrically on 26 October 2020 by Wildcard Distribution in the United Kingdom[12] and on 13 November by GKIDS in the United States and Canada.[13]

Child Film distributes it in Japan and Value & Power Culture Communications will distribute in China.[22][23]

The theatrical release in Ireland was planned for the same day as the UK, but was delayed until later in the year due to the enforced closure of cinemas across the country in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.[12] It was instead released on 2 December 2020.

The film debuted on Apple TV+ on 11 December 2020, and was later released theatrically in France on 16 December by Haut et Court.[14][15] In March, Deadline announced that Wolfwalkers would be re-released to select theaters in North America, starting on 19 March 2021 with the Angelika Film Center in New York.[24]

Reception[edit]

Box office[edit]

As of December 2020, Wolfwalkers has earned $229,041 at the global box office.[8] According to Moore, the film cost €10 million to produce.[7]

Critical response[edit]

On Rotten Tomatoes, 99% of 156 reviews are positive for the film, and the average rating is 8.70/10. Critics consensus on the website reads, "A mesmerizing Celtic-inspired adventure, Wolfwalkers offers an epic ethereal fantasy matched by profound philosophies and stellar voice work."[25] On Metacritic, the film has a weighted average score of 87 out of 100, based on 28 reviews, indicating "universal acclaim".[26]

Sam Adams of Slate called this the best animated movie of the year to date, noting some weakness in mismatched tone but writing at length about the beauty and technical ability of the animation.[27] Peter Debruge of Variety wrote: "In the decade since Kells, it's not just the technological advances that make Moore's latest so impressive, but the rapidly changing cultural conversations as well. He brings everything together by borrowing from timeless visual influences, leaving audiences with another stunning artwork for the ages."[4]

Accolades[edit]

Metacritic summarized various critics end-of-year top lists, and ranked Wolfwalkers in 26th place overall.[28] IndieWire's poll of 231 critics included Wolfwalkers in its Best Movies of 2020, ranking in 32nd place.[29]

Award Date of ceremony Category Recipient(s) Result Ref.
Academy Awards April 25, 2021 Best Animated Feature Tomm Moore, Ross Stewart, Paul Young and Stéphan Roelants Nominated [30]
AFI Fest October 23, 2020 Narrative Feature Tomm Moore and Ross Stewart Won [31]
Alliance of Women Film Journalists January 4, 2021 Best Animated Feature Film Wolfwalkers Nominated [32]
Best Animated Female Eva Whittaker Nominated
Honor Kneafsey Nominated
American Cinema Editors Awards April 17, 2021 Best Edited Animated Feature Film Darragh Byrne, Richie Cody, Darren Holmes, ACE Nominated [33]
Annie Awards April 16, 2021 Best Animated Feature – Independent Wolfwalkers Won [34]
Best FX for Feature Kim Kelly, Leena Lecklin, Frédéric Plumey, Almu Redondo and Nicole Storck Nominated
Best Character Animation - Feature Emmanuel Asquier-Brassart Nominated
Best Character Design - Feature Federico Pirovano Won
Best Direction - Feature Tomm Moore and Ross Stewart Won
Best Music - Feature Bruno Coulais and Kíla Nominated
Best Production Design - Feature María Pareja, Ross Stewart and Tomm Moore Won
Best Storyboarding - Feature Guillaume Lorin Nominated
Best Voice Acting - Feature Eva Whittaker Won
Best Writing - Feature Will Collins Nominated
Art Directors Guild Awards April 10, 2021 Excellence in Production Design for an Animated Film Ross Stewart, Tomm Moore and Maria Pareja Nominated [35]
Austin Film Critics Association Awards March 19, 2021 Best Animated Film Wolfwalkers Won [36]
Boston Society of Film Critics Awards December 13, 2020 Best Animated Film Wolfwalkers Runner-up [37]
British Academy Film Awards April 11, 2021 Best Animated Film Tomm Moore, Ross Stewart and Paul Young Nominated [38]
Chicago Film Critics Association Awards December 21, 2020 Best Animated Film Tomm Moore, Ross Stewart, Nora Twomey and Paul Young Won [39]
Critics' Choice Super Awards January 10, 2021 Best Animated Movie Wolfwalkers Nominated [40]
Best Voice Actress in an Animated Movie Honor Kneafsey Nominated
Eva Whittaker Nominated
Dallas-Fort Worth Film Critics Association Awards February 10, 2021 Best Animated Film Wolfwalkers Runner-up [41]
Detroit Film Critics Society Awards March 8, 2021 Best Animated Feature Wolfwalkers Nominated [42]
Dorian Awards April 18, 2021 Most Visually Striking Film Wolfwalkers Nominated [43]
Dublin Film Critics' Circle Awards December 18, 2020 Best Irish Film Wolfwalkers Won [44]
European Film Awards April 25, 2021 Young Audience Award Tomm Moore and Ross Stewart Nominated [45]
Florida Film Critics Circle Awards December 21, 2020 Best Animated Film Wolfwalkers Runner-up [46]
Georgia Film Critics Association March 12, 2021 Best Animated Film Wolfwalkers Nominated [47]
Golden Globe Awards February 28, 2021 Best Animated Feature Wolfwalkers Nominated [48]
Gotham Awards January 11, 2021 Audience Award Wolfwalkers Nominated [49]
Best International Feature Tomm Moore, Ross Stewart, Paul Young, Nora Twomey and Stéphan Roelants Nominated
Hollywood Critics Association Awards March 5, 2021 Best Animated or VFX Performance Honor Kneafsey Nominated [50]
Best Animated Film Wolfwalkers Won
Hollywood Music in Media Awards January 27, 2021 Best Original Score in an Animated Film Bruno Coulais Nominated [51]
Houston Film Critics Society Awards January 18, 2021 Best Animated Film Wolfwalkers Nominated [52]
IndieWire Critics Poll December 14, 2020 Best International Feature Wolfwalkers 7th place [53]
International Cinephile Society Awards February 20, 2021 Best Animated Film Tomm Moore and Ross Stewart Nominated [54]
International Film Music Critics Association Awards February 18, 2021 Best Original Score for an Animated Film Bruno Coulais Won [55]
Irish Animation Awards May 21, 2021 Best Animation Sequence Wolfwalkers Pending [56]
Best Art Direction and Design Wolfwalkers Pending
Best Editing Wolfwalkers Pending
Best Irish Feature or Special Wolfwalkers Pending
Best Music Wolfwalkers Pending
Best Sound Design Wolfwalkers Pending
Best Storyboarding Wolfwalkers Pending
London Critics Circle Film Awards February 7, 2021 Technical Achievement Award Tomm Moore and Ross Stewart Nominated [57]
Los Angeles Film Critics Association Awards December 20, 2020 Best Animated Film Wolfwalkers Won [58]
Motion Picture Sound Editors Awards April 16, 2021 Outstanding Achievement in Sound Editing – Feature Animation Sebastien Marquilly, Bruno Seznec, Christian Seznec, Baptiste Bouche, Felix Davin, Alexandre Fleurant, Axel Steichen, Stéphane Werner, Anne-Lyse Haddak and Florian Fabre Nominated [59]
National Board of Review January 26, 2021 Top 10 Independent Films Wolfwalkers Won [60]
New York Film Critics Circle Awards December 18, 2020 Best Animated Film Wolfwalkers Won [61]
Online Film Critics Society Awards January 25, 2021 Best Animated Feature Wolfwalkers Nominated [62]
Producers Guild of America Awards March 24, 2021 Outstanding Producer of Animated Theatrical Motion Pictures Paul Young, Nora Twomey, Tomm Moore, and Stéphan Roelants Nominated [63]
San Diego Film Critics Society Awards January 11, 2021 Best Animated Film Wolfwalkers Won [64]
San Francisco Bay Area Film Critics Circle Awards January 18, 2021 Best Animated Feature Wolfwalkers Nominated [65]
Satellite Awards February 15, 2021 Best Animated or Mixed Media Film Wolfwalkers Won [66]
Seattle Film Critics Society Awards February 15, 2021 Best Animated Feature Wolfwalkers Won [67]
St. Louis Gateway Film Critics Association Awards January 17, 2021 Best Animated Film Wolfwalkers Nominated [68]
Toronto Film Critics Association Awards February 7, 2021 Best Animated Film Wolfwalkers Won [69]
Ursa Major Awards May 2, 2021 Best Motion Picture Wolfwalkers Won [70]
Washington D.C. Area Film Critics Association Awards February 8, 2021 Best Animated Feature Wolfwalkers Nominated [71]
Best Voice Performance Honor Kneafsey Nominated
Women Film Critics Circle Awards March 7, 2021 Best Animated Female Eva Whittaker Runner-up [72]
Honor Kneafsey Nominated

Future[edit]

During an interview in 2021, Moore stated that there are currently no plans for a Wolfwalkers sequel, just like his previous films The Secret of Kells and Song of the Sea have no sequels.[73]

No, I don’t think we do sequels per se, it would be unusual if we did that but we do tend to continue in the same vein, so we’ll see. The next few films that we do will be quite different. Who knows what’s down the line?

— Tomm Moore in an interview with RTÉ

References[edit]

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External links[edit]