Yay! Movie day! Time to whip out the popcorn and my blankies and curl up on the couch. It’s a rainy day and I decided it was as good as any to review my selection of films. Because, after much consideration, I decided that my first in-depth blog post would be about Selkies. And even more so, Selkies in cinema.
This post was inspired by Lara Dunning, an aspiring writer and academic, who is in fact in the process of writing a fictional YA piece about the mythical Selkie. You can learn more about her and what she has written at her blog.
FIRST OFF, WHAT IS A SELKIE?
A Selkie, as some of you may already be aware, is a sea creature that is part seal and part human. Tales of Selkies are primarily found in Scottish and Irish folklore. Let’s take a look at a traditional Scottish folk story animated by Walter McCorie:
Now, that we’ve established the traditional view of the Selkie, let’s find out what modern cinema has done with this age old concept. Oh, I should also warn you now, some of the following may contain SPOILERS.
Don’t be upset. The reason The Selkie’s Lover (2013) is coming in at number five is because it is a short film instead of a full feature. It is also a bit more difficult to get your hands on than the others. But, apart from that, it is a perfectly nice Indie short, that tells a tale of love between a Selkie and a man. Set in a modern day setting but telling an age old narrative it strives to link the two and tell a timeless narrative. If you can get ahold of it, have a look see and let me know what you think.
Not an all together terrible film, but not one of my favorites on this list. Primarily because the whiny teenage protagonist, Jaimie, kept getting on my nerves. But I’m fairly certain he is supposed to.
The film itself is set in Australia. Something isn’t sitting quite right with Jamie as he develops into a young man. His fingers are webbed for starters and the sea just seems to keep calling out to him. Lo and behold, Jamie finds that he has some pretty interesting Scottish heritage that’s going to make fitting in as a teen even more difficult than it already is. If you can get through the first half of it, it actually becomes a pretty decent film.
This film seems to be a bit of a cult classic among Selkie enthusiasts. It follows much the same theme as The Selkie (2000) in that it address the concept of Selkie heritage. But that’s where their similarities end. This story actually takes place in Ireland (moved from its original setting in Scotland) and is complete with a mystery of a missing baby brother. It is steeped in folklore and superstition, and is told in a much more serious tone than The Selkie (2000). The storytelling is beautiful and the film is well worth a watch.
This is probably my favorite film on the list, and it is the film that first brought me to the subject matter (Check out Ana Dunning’s review). It stars Colin Farrell, who is a fisherman who brings up a beautiful woman in his fishing nets. She’s incredibly mysterious and it doesn’t take the fisherman’s daughter long to decide that she must be a Selkie and that her father better make a move quick before her Selkie husband comes to reclaim her.
Why is this my favorite? you might ask. Because it has a harsh reality that most true folklore tends to mask in its magic. The film is filled with themes of divorce, alcoholism, illness and a lot of other unpleasantness. In all of this, the protagonists end up embracing the folkloric concepts as a possible reality. Providing a welcome break from the unpleasantness. And the mysterious Ondine, the Selkie woman who has run away from her Selkie husband, is filled with hope of a new life on a foreign land. Not exactly a happy tale but certainly a very compelling story. I definitely recommend this film if you have the patience to see it through to the end.
Alright, first off, I am a sucker for animation. And this truly a stunningly beautiful piece of artwork. I had a hard time choosing between Search for Roan Inish (1994), Ondine (2009) and Song of the Sea (2014). Why did Song of the Sea (2014) win spot number one? Mostly because of its medium. I found animation to be a very fitting form in which to tell such a fantastical tale. It’s also a film that is suitable for all audiences unlike Ondine (2009) and I figured The Search of Roan Inish (1994) is a bit older and has gotten its fair share of limelight . So, simply put, Song of the Sea takes spot number one.
HONORABLE MENTION: The Seventh Stream (2001)
So, I wish I had known about The Seventh Stream (2001) when I wrote the original post. Thank you Morgan Grey for the suggestion! Morgan Grey is an Alaska-based author and a selkie enthusiast. You can check out her blog A World of Selkies for more great information about selkies!
Now back to the film. The Seventh Stream (2001) is a wonderful film and should actually bump it’s way onto the Top 5 list. The Seventh Stream (2001) is a true selkie tale. With all of the magic, mystery, tragedy and killer accents to boot! It is a beautiful story about the widower Owen Quinn and his noble actions that lead him to find love anew. This movie was everything I could hope for from a selkie themed film. It’s complete with greed, loss, love, murder and magic. It has many a great twist and turn and I really enjoyed it thoroughly. So, if you haven’t seen it, I definitely recommend it! It’s great for anyone just learning about selkies, the die-hard fans and/or anyone in between. It actually made me cry a little 😥 .
So, what do you think?
Of course these are just my opinions and I’m dying to hear your list of the top 5 Selkie based films! Make sure to comment below or send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. I’ll be sure to add a list of honorable mentions for all those who contribute. (Also don’t forget to “like” Folkloreate on Facebook!)
So, I pass the discussion on to you. What are your favorite Selkie stories and/or films?