Films with Rounded Edges

I’ll get to the birthday giveaway in just a minute. But first, this. . . .

In my quest to cut back on violent imagery (which I discussed in this post), I watched three movies with a softer touch. Two—The Secret of Kells (2009) and Song of the Sea (2014) were directed by Irish filmmaker/illustrator Tomm Moore.


Tomm Moore

Both were nominated for the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature.

The-Secret-of-Kells-cover song-of-the-sea-dvd-cover-53

Here’s the trailer for Song of the Sea.

The third was Lego Batman: The Movie—DC Super Heroes Unite (2013), directed by Jon Burton. This movie is based on a videogame. You can watch the trailer here.

(To avoid overcrowding this post with trailers, the Secret of Kells trailer can be found if you click here. But only if you want to.)

Lego Batman has fight scenes so innocuous a five-year-old can view them without twitching. That’s not a criticism. I loved it and Tomm Moore’s gorgeously animated films.

The Secret of Kells is based on a real book—the Book of Kells, a medieval illuminated manuscript of the four Gospels on display at Trinity College Library in Dublin. It features Brendan, a boy living the monastic life in a walled village, where his uncle, the abbot, fears an impending attack by the Vikings. A visit from a famed manuscript illuminator sets Brendan on a life-changing journey. In Song of the Sea, Ben—one of the main characters—grieves the disappearance of his mother while avoiding his six-year-old sister Saiorse, who has yet to speak a word. Being sent away to live with a stern grandmother sets Ben on a journey of discovery about his sister and why their mother left.


Book of Kells Chi Rho page, which the film mentions

What I love about both films, besides the utter beauty of the art, is the exploration of Celtic mythology. Fairy stories are generally a way to gain my rapt attention. Brendan meets a fairy—one of the Tuatha De Danann. Ben thrives on stories of fairies and selkies.


Brendan with Aisling, the fairy Brendan meets in the forest


Ben (bottom right) with Saiorse (the little girl in the center surrounded by fairies)

In an interview at the, Moore cited Hayao Miyazaki (Ponyo; Spirited Away), Genndy Tartakovsky (Samurai Jack; Hotel Transylvania), and Michel Ocelot (The Princes’ Quest; Tales of the Night) as influencers. (If you know Miyazaki’s work, you know that Studio Ghibli was founded by Miyazaki and another filmmaker—Isao Takahata.) If you’ve seen the work of these filmmakers, you know the beauty and scope of their projects. I have certainly appreciated their work over the years.


Hayao Miyazaki

Genndy Tartakovsky

Michel Ocelot

I know what you’re thinking. An attack by Vikings? Evil villains teaming up to destroy a city? (If you saw the Lego Batman trailer, you’ll know who the villains are.) Aren’t those violent acts? Yep. There are scenes of peril in all three movies. But the peril is definitely palatable for a young audience. The deliberately softened edges in some scenes help.

And that’s what I appreciated overall—the rounded edges. In his behind-the-scenes presentation, Tomm Moore talked about the deliberate choice to match the style of the Book of Kells by featuring circular imagery in many of the scenes. In his commentary, Moore described these images as “a little bit more friendly.” If you look back at the imagery on his films’ DVD cases and the other pictures above, you’ll see the rounded edges of the heroic characters. The antagonists, however, have sharp angles.

Moore is not the only one who has this opinion about rounded edges. I found this article on web design: “5 Colors, Shapes, and Techniques That Make Your Company Friendlier.” The writer, James George, states

[A]dding circular elements to your website can help to break the mold and make your website look friendly and more inviting.

Another article that talks about the inviting quality of rounded edges is this one.

I can’t say I know for sure what the thought process was behind Lego Batman. But Lego minifigs usually look inviting. In the film, many of the characters smiled a lot, which made them look, well, adorable.


I never explored the idea of rounded edges being friendlier until I began writing this post and heard Moore’s discussion. Perhaps that’s why I love the rounded tops of some Tudor-style doors. I don’t know about you, but I want to walk through these doors.


So that’s what I’ve been up to lately. I’m feeling much more relaxed—relaxed enough to announce the winner of the birthday giveaway. (If you’re not sure what I mean, go here.)

The winner, without further ado, is . . .

Is . . .

Is . . .

Penny of the Life in the Cutoff blog!!!

Penny, please confirm below, and provide an email address where you can be reached. Also, let me know your choice: coffee or tea.

Thanks to all who commented. Have a happy Avengers 2: Age of Ultron weekend!


Song of the Sea DVD cover from Secret of Kells DVD cover from Tomm Moore from Lego Batman from Ben and Aisling image from Song of the Sea still from Brendan from DC heroes from Doors from Genndy Tartakovsky from Hayao Miyazaki from Michel Ocelot from Avengers 2 logo from Book of Kells Chi Rho page

28 thoughts on “Films with Rounded Edges

  1. Firstly: I have a book which is a beautiful reproduction of the Book of Kells. And I love Celtic mythology. I’ve always had a (little) bee in my bonnet about the fact that, over here in Britain, high schools may study Roman or Greek mythology, but ignore our own British mythology. Although I was heartened to learn last year that my daughter Millie, in primary school, read the great Children of Lir. (By the way, speaking of mythology, there is a book due out soon about Scandinavian folklore in which I feature, but that is for another day!)

    • Ha! Andy, I thought about you when I wrote this post. I knew you would be familiar with this, because you’ve posted about Celtic mythology. (I also enjoy Scandinavian folklore. I think we’ve talked about “East of the Sun, West of the Moon” before.) I’ve had to study it on my own though. As you mentioned, we studied Greek and Roman mythology in elementary school and high school. I read The Mabinogion when I was an adult.

    • Thanks, Laurie. I learned a lot watching these movies. It’s cool how the danger is present, but not so scary that a kid would have nightmares. And I love movies involving kids on a journey!!!

  2. Oh, wow! What a nice surprise this morning. Thank you. I’ll email you my information and I’ll be smiling (roundly) all day.
    Such an interesting post. I am especially interested in seeing The Secret of Kells. This idea of rounding the edges fascinates me. I, too, love rounded doors and we actually have several rounded archways in our house. I’ve been accumulating a series of photos of rounded front doors that I see, taking the photos out of the window of my car as I see them, to do who knows what at some point in my life.
    A very nice way to start me day. Thank you.

    • You’re welcome. I sent you an email in response to your email about more information needed.
      I think you would like The Secret of Kells. It’s a different kind of film–very lyrical and thought provoking. Song of the Sea probably has more action in it and more kid appeal. I found both films very beautiful.

  3. I love Celtic mythology too! In fact, my the world in my first manuscript (currently shelved) was based on the Tuatha de Danaan. I also love the idea of rounded edges and making peril palatable! I’m just catching up on all of your recent blogs after a spell of being too busy to sit down at the computer. And I love all these posts! Especially the one about being relevant by being yourself. I needed to hear that. Thank you!

    • Hi, Laura! I really want you to finish that story someday. And I totally understand! You have had a lot going on. And you have a novel to finish revising so I can read it. . . .

  4. Such depth of thought….much to ponder. I agree about the rounded edges. It seems our society is so in your face about everything, shouting how everyone ‘should’ think, feel, act, that being subtle (rounded) about hard issues is looked upon as cowardly, untruthful or at the very least, irrelevant.

    About the book of Kells…over the years, I’ve perused it’s pages (facimile, of course!) more for the artwork and graphics to incorporate into quilt patterns. Never got around to actually reading or learning about the actual content. My bad. ;-P

    • I think you would like The Secret of Kells, Laura–if you’re a fan of animation. I didn’t know anything about the Book of Kells. But when this movie was recommended to me, I checked it out! I appreciated the director’s discussion of the Book of Kells.

    • Thanks, Maria. 😀 I wasn’t sure anyone would read my ramblings today, since I mentioned movies no one else I know watched. But that’s me–a fan of the quirky! 😀

  5. Congratulations, Penny! Great post, L. Marie. I also love rounded doors, especially on large doors. As for Lego Batman…how did I miss that? I loved Legos and Batman as a kid. The two of them together…very cool. You never fail to get me thinking.

    • Jill, it is a very fun movie. I never played the videogame. I heard that cut scenes from the game were used in the movie. I promptly ordered it for a little boy whose birthday is coming up.

  6. Glad you enjoyed all 3 movies. I watched Paddington this week and fell in love with that bear from Darkest Peru.

    Love that rounded doorway. Definitely an inviting portal

    Congrats to Penny.

  7. Great post! I hadn’t thought about the friendliness of rounded edges either, but it makes complete sense. I love The Secret of Kells. I’ll have to check out Song of the Sea.

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