Award-winning animated fantasy adventure film Wolfwalkers was inspired in part by the Catholic-Protestant divide in Northern Ireland, Irish filmmaker Tomm Moore has revealed.
Moore, who directed the film, also shared his hopes that the movie will encourage unity.
Wolfwalkers, which is currently streaming on Apple TV+, is set in 17th century Kilkenny, Ireland, and follows the story of Robyn Goodfellowe, a young apprentice hunter who arrives in the city with her father. The pair are tasked by the authoritarian Lord Protector to wipe out the last wolf pack.
However, while exploring the forbidden lands outside the city walls, Robyn befriends a free-spirited girl, Mebh, a member of a mysterious tribe rumoured to have the ability to turn into wolves by night.
As they search for Mebh’s missing mother, Robyn uncovers a secret that draws her further into the enchanted world of the Wolfwalkers and risks turning into the very thing her father is tasked to destroy.
Moore said he wanted the film to “speak to species extinction and its meaning for people in Ireland”.
“A lot of our folklore is connected to nature and how a lot of it was completely destroyed by wiping out the woods and through fires. It’s really still a contemporary thing,” he told The Christian Post.
Moore, from Newry, Northern Ireland, said he also wanted to address the “real divide” between Catholics and Protestants in Ireland, which he was surprised to realise continues to this day.
“It’s coming back, this divide between Catholics and Protestants in Ireland,” he said. “It’s unfortunate.”
He said he hoped that Robyn and Mebh’s friendship would encourage the audience to see past such differences.
“Maybe it’s a bit naive, but it’s just a little gentle reminder, rather than being too preachy, because I think the whole world has gotten more and more divided,” he said.
“When I was a kid in the ‘80s in Northern Ireland, there was that really obvious divide, but now when you look around the world, it seems like there are more and more people taking sides and seeing other groups of people, as ‘the other’. And rather than focusing on what they have in common, they kind of focus on pretty small differences.”
Moore also noted that the film provides an accurate representation of how terrible acts were carried out through the misuse of Christianity in 17th century Ireland.
“Religion there got mixed up,” he said. “The big part of why Lord Protector was so hard on Kilkenny was because the city was the capital of Catholic Ireland. By destroying the spirit of the people here, they were kind of making a statement that it was the new Protestant world. So it was politics at work.
“Lord Protector is a ‘true believer’, which makes him kind of dangerous, but I don’t know that he’s really a Christian. I think Christianity, unfortunately, can be interpreted by people to justify pretty un-Christian deeds.”
Wolfwalkers is the third and final instalment in Moore’s ‘Irish Folklore Trilogy’, following his previous films The Secret of Kells (2009) and Song of the Sea (2014).
Picture: Robyn Goodfellowe (voiced by Honor Kneafsey) and Mebh Óg Mactíre (voiced by Eva Whittaker) in Wolfwalkers, now streaming on Apple TV+. (Apple TV+).