Apple TV+’s Wolfwalkers Exemplifies Superb Storytelling

by Senji Torrey

Media Production Editor

Animated cinema has seen a comeback during these coronavirus times. Despite the volume of releases during the pandemic, many of these films have seemed undercooked, or simply underwhelming. However, Apple TV+’s Wolfwalkers breaks through this lull, producing a complete, three-dimensional movie filled with superb storytelling, enriched characters, and a healthy dose of twists and turns that come standard with any preeminent piece.

Wolfwalkers takes place in Kilkenny, Ireland, in 1650. From the opening scene, the viewer can already tell that this movie is different. The sketch-like yet detailed drawings of the movie, mixed in with the flawless currents of motion from the characters and animals, make for a unique aesthetic that has become rare in the age of realism in animation.

The first scene also eloquently sets the stage for the rest of the movie, which follows an English girl named Robyn who is thrown from her urban English house into a beaten up Irish shanty in isolated Kilkenny. After venturing too far into the woods just outside of the gated town, Robyn’s situation becomes even more complicated as she realizes that she has taken something away from those woods that she can’t give back. Soon, this stolen item gets Robyn in an insurmountable amount of trouble that sends shockwaves throughout the town and woods.

Perhaps the most prominent element of Wolfwalkers that distinguishes it from other animated features is its authenticity. Though ultimately released by the American-based Apple TV+ company, the production of the movie was done by an Irish company and was created in association with over ten other Irish-based contributors. These efforts can be seen in the film through the unique depiction of Kilkenny’s township, people, and even woods.

In addition to the endeavors put in behind the scenes, Wolfwalkers made sure to cast accordingly to the Irish nationality. The main characters Robyn and Mebh are both played by actresses who are of the same nationality as their in-film characters. This level of authenticity blows movies — such as the outwardly similar Disney Pixar movie Brave, which does not have correlating nationalities between characters and actors — out of the water. 

Besides this aspect of authenticity, Wolfwalkers provides another reason for why the correct nationality is key when focusing on the fiery rivalry between Ireland and Britain, two countries that are often bunched together as one. The differences between the two may seem insignificant to an outsider, but this film proves that the two countries do not share views and status, which has put the two neighbors at odds with one another. One of the most brilliant parts of this movie, however, is the small accents of this contention that are perfectly peppered into the storyline. Whether it is the comments that Robyn gets on her “fancy-dancy accent” or the harsh reality that an Englishman was chosen to lead an army of Irish soldiers instead of an Irishman, Wolfwalkers portrays the Irish-British feud without taking away from the main plot.

Apple TV+ has created a sensational piece of art in Wolfwalkers and has distinctively built off of the successes and failures of previous animations, triumphing in a picture that is a definitive feather in the cap of a young Apple TV+ career.

(Sources: Vanity Fair, Disney, Apple TV+, Newstalk)

Image courtesy IndieWire

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