The story isn’t much—an ungainly little hero tale about an orphaned boy on a quest—but The Secret of Kells isn’t about the story. Nor is it just about the undeniably gorgeous hand-drawn animation inspired by the medieval art of its subject matter. No, what makes the movie so striking and lovely is the way that animation arouses the emotion of its story. The raw plot might be awkward and poorly paced, but the evocative imagery makes it work in spite of itself. One can’t help but feel the joyful freedom of a walk in the woods, the giddy excitement of artistic inspiration, the gnawing fear of a community under siege. The animation gives the story resonance, and the story, slight though it may be, gives the animation meaning. The result is an engaging, wondrous little gem.