The Secret of Roan Inish is an American independent film written and directed by John Sayles, and released in 1994. It’s based on the novel The Secret of Ron Mor Skerry, by Rosalie K. Fry. It is centered on the Irish and Orcadian folklores of selkies—seals that can shed their skins to become human. The story, set on the west coast of Ireland, is about Fiona, a young girl who is sent to live with her grandparents near the island of Roan Inish, where the selkies are rumored to reside. It is an old family legend that her younger brother was swept away in his infancy and raised by a selkie. Part of the film takes place in Donegal. The movie has been widely praised for its uniqueness and its breathtaking cinematography filmed by Haskell Wexler.
The story is told from the point-of-view of Fiona — played by Jeni Courtney — a young girl who is sent to live with her grandparents in an Irish fishing village. Her grandfather weaves tall tales about the family’s evacuation from their home on the tiny island of Roan Inish and his great-great grandfather, who once cheated death at the hands of the sea. As she meets other villagers, Fiona hears more personal stories about an ancestor who married a beautiful, part-human/part-seal, and more about how the sea stole her baby brother during the departure from Roan Inish. Later, Fiona believes that she has found Jamie romping in the grass on Roan Inish, and she must convince the family of her vision.
Although in the original novel the story takes place in Sotland, the filmmakers decided to have the film take place in Ireland for practical reasons. Critic Stephen Holden, of The New York Times, liked the film’s direction. He wrote, “The Secret of Roan Inish is the first film directed by Mr. Sayles that could be described as visually rhapsodic. Photographed by Haskell Wexler on Ireland’s rugged northwestern seacoast, it is a cinematic tone poem in which man and nature, myth and reality flow together in a way that makes them ultimately indivisible.
A beautiful story, that captures the selkie legend with a touch of innocence. 5 Golden Stars from CelticRadio.net:
Picture Gallery from the Movie: The Secret of Roan Inish