If you're the kind to sit by a fire telling an listening to tales, then this movie is a must. Roger Ebert writes about it here, and really gets to the crux of the film's meaning. Here are two quotes from his piece:
"The secret of John Sayles' "The Secret of Roan Inish" is that it tells of this young girl with perfect seriousness. This is not a children's movie, not a fantasy, not cute, not fanciful. It is the exhilarating account of the way Fiona rediscovers her family's history and reclaims their island. If by any chance you do not believe in Selkies, please at least keep an open mind, because in this film Selkies exist in the real world, just like you and me."
"One can easily guess how this legend could have been simplified and jollied up in other hands - how it could have been about cute little Selkies. But legends are, after all, told by adults, not children, and usually they record something essential to the culture that produces them. What this legend says, I think, is that the people who tell it live on the land but live from the sea, so that their loyalties are forever divided."
Don't know what a selkie is? Watch this movie and wonder no more.
We own a VHS version of the movie. I'll have to upgrade to a DVD version. It's available from my library, and lord knows that I make use of my library so much that my library card is smoking, but this is one of those things that I want to have for my very own.
The soundtrack is also very nice, sometimes while listening to it I want to get up and dance a jig.
So find this gem at your library, or rental store, or purchase it. If you have a fanciful mind, you won't be disappointed.