Wolfwalkers, the new feature from Cartoon Saloon, is almost complete, and the studio’s presentation at the virtual edition of Annecy came with a wealth of new visual and narrative details from the project. It unfolded in a blizzard of artwork, animation segments, and references to the filmmakers’ inspirations, which range from pre-Celtic megalithic art to Isao Takahata’s The Tale of the Princess Kaguya.
Tomm Moore, who is directing alongside Ross Stewart, calls this “the final panel of our Irish folklore triptych.” As in his previous films, the Oscar-nominated The Secret of Kells and Song of the Sea, the story is built from his country’s history and mythology — in this case, the tension between 17th-century Kilkenny, a town dominated by English settlers, and the surrounding woodland, which is home to wolves and magical forces.
The duality between town and forest is reinforced in the design. Kilkenny is all grey-brown palettes, angular shapes, and woodcut-style lines, which give way to rounded, flowing forms and autumnal greens and reds in the forest (Moore notes that the mostly Mediterranean art team initially struggled to capture the colors of Ireland’s nature).