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The Secret of Roan Inish Review

For Families provided by Common Sense Media

OK for kids 8+

Gentle Irish folk tale of a young girl's island odyssey.

What Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that some images in this film may be frightening to young children: a cradled infant boy floats into the stormy sea and disappears while birds attack two men on the shore, preventing them from rescuing the baby; a "Selkie" (legendary seal) unsettlingly sheds its skin to become a woman. The opening scene takes place at the funeral of a young mother; the sound of a wailing baby intensifies the sadness. There is a startling moment when a young man suddenly stabs a knife into a table. Stories and superstitions are related throughout, some of which humanize sea creatures and sometimes make them appear threatening. Drinking takes place in local pubs. A naked toddler runs along the beach in several sequences.

  • Families can talk about folk tales. Why is this movie considered a folk tale? How are such tales passed from one generation to another? What do you think happens to the stories as they are recounted over the years?
  • Why was the sea so important to the people in this movie? Why was it important to Fiona?
  • The filmmakers used music, sound, and close-ups to illustrate the power and vastness of nature. Were they successful? How did each of these devices increase your experience?
  • What other movies have you seen that might be considered folk tales or legends? How do these differ from fairy tales?

The good stuff
  • educationalvalue true3

    Educational value: Myth and folklore can enrich our lives; exploring even the most fantastical tales can provide unforeseen rewards. Seals and birds are given new dimension and inspire a deeper respect from the viewer. This film can be used as a springboard for further study of both animals and folk tales.

  • message true1

    Messages: Two big messages resonate: That humans and creatures in the animal world are dependent upon one another and deserve to be treated with mutual respect, and that the legacy of the past, combined with faith and tenacity, can result in miraculous discovery.

  • rolemodels true1

    Role models: While usually obedient and respectful, Fiona is also spirited and follows her heart. She accepts the consequences when she has made a mistake. She is willing to venture out of her "comfort zone" to learn new things and explore the world. The grandparents, while superstitious and strait-laced, are caring, responsible adults who love Fiona.

What to watch for
  • violence false0

    Violence and scariness: Birds attack two men while another bird pushes a baby in a cradle into the sea. The floating cradle is lost at sea in a fierce storm. A character suddenly stabs a knife into a table top in a moment of great anger.

  • sex false0

    Sexy stuff: Not applicable

  • language false0

    Language: Not applicable

  • consumerism false0

    Consumerism: Not applicable

  • drugsalcoholtobacco false0

    Drinking, drugs and smoking: Men seen drinking in a pub. Possibly drunk patron with beer in hand asks that his daughter be taken to live with her grandparents. Mention made of pub drinking on several occasions.