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UK: Miracle Communications / S4C Films
Cast: Daniel Evans, Jenny Livsey, Matthew Rhys, Sue Jones Davies, Ioan Gruffudd, Peter Gruffydd, Robert Gwyndaf, Mali Harries, Aneirin Hughes, Clare Isaac, Gwyn Vaughan Jones, Anton Lesser, Richard Lynch, Philip Madoc, Paul McGann, Richard Mylan, Jack O'Kelly, Lisa Palfrey, Meic Povey, Catrin Powell, Dilys Price, Alun Raglan, Paul Rhys, Siān Rivers, Mair Rowlands, Dorien Thomas, William Thomas, Menna Trussler, Eilian Wyn, Geraint Wyn, Stephen Armstrong, Sara Cracroft, Gruffudd Davies, Kathryn Dimery, Richard Elfyn, John Evans, Simon Fisher, Tony Leader
Director: Derek Hayes
UK: 108 mins
UK Certificate: 12A contains animated battle violence and moderate sex
UK Release Date: 27 June 2003
The screenplay for this animated feature film takes as its inspiration a Celtic text called Y Mabinogi ("tales of young men"). The film starts in live action where we meet three contemporary Welsh teenagers.
On his eighteenth birthday Lleu's (Matthew Rhys) world is shaken by the news that he is adopted. On the same day, his friend Rhiannon (Jenny Livsey) thinks that she may be pregnant, and Dan (Daniel Evans), who lives in his big brother's shadow, is as scatty as ever.
They all put their problems aside for the day when they come together to celebrate Lleu's birthday. Venturing on a boat trip along the Welsh coast they suddenly see a change in the water. They realise that, on May Eve, they have found the golden gateway to the OtherWorld, which can be seen shining deep beneath the waters.
Being an independent and stubborn girl, Rhiannon doesn't think twice before plunging into the sea, and the other two are not far behind. As they swim deeper and deeper and get closer and closer to the golden gateway, they are transformed into animated characters, and transported back many centuries to the Celtic world of the Mabinogi.
But Rhiannon, Dan and Lleu have their own Sixth Century problems! Rhiannon is being forced to marry someone she doesn't love, Dan is trying to make things right after his brother's malicious and violent scheming, and Lleu is trying to come to terms with his mother's rejection of him.
While trying to overcome these problems, the characters have to deal with the conflict between fate, personal choice and magic. Alongside this we have scenes of vast battles and gritty man-to-man fighting in an action-packed story of ancient Celts in a dangerous and sometimes magical world!
The animation style is 2D, or hand drawn, and the characters are set against vivid and painterly backgrounds drawing deeply on the beauty of the Welsh landscape for inspiration and reference. The film opens and concludes in live-action, and our three main characters within the animation are representations of their live-action counterparts. Elements of the live-action reappear throughout the animated body of the film, to blend and combine the different media, and computer-generated effects and objects are also an inherent part of the film's technique.
The film score comes from Welsh rock legend, John Cale, formerly of The Velvet Underground.
The film was commissioned by S4C (Welsh Fourth Channel), with additional funding from British Screen, BSkyB, the BBC and the Arts Council of Wales National Lottery Fund.