There are animated films that don't use animation to its full potential and treat it as a tool instead of an art. Long Way North is not one of these films for it is a beautifully crafted animated masterpiece. Long Way North, at its core, is an adventure - not just a physical one, but an emotional one for the protagonist, Sacha. With so many dangerous moments, there is a multitude of action scenes filled with drama and intensity. This film will inspire you with its heartwarming story.
The story takes place in 1880s St. Petersburg, Russia. Sacha (Christa Théret) is a young girl from a very successful family. She doesn't have her eyes on politics or wealth. Instead, Sacha has her eyes on the North Pole. After her grandfather disappears on a voyage to the North Pole, she makes it her mission to find him. It won't be easy, she has never worked in her entire life and she will have to do it without her wealthy parents' support.
One thing that is truly spectacular about this movie is how quickly you understand the conflict, protagonist, plot and goals of the protagonist. Within the first five minutes, I knew the names of each character, Sacha's hopes and dreams, her challenges and why her character is unique. Very few films can achieve this with even a simple plot which shows how well the film's story is shown. Another beautiful part of the film is the animation. It is hand drawn and very colorful. The style perfectly suits the story and seamlessly shows the different elements of the movie, from big ice cliffs to the stormy seas. One aspect of the film I disliked is the voice-over acting and dubbing. The movie was recorded originally in French and is dubbed in English. Many times, the voices are very emotional and perfectly fit the characters, but at times the voices are too soft and sound as if they were recorded in a room somewhere and not where the action is taking place. Despite this, turning on sub-titles completely removes this issue and it is still a very entertaining and enjoyable film.
My favorite scene is when Sacha first leaves the large mansion, surrounded by the maids she grew up with. What appeals to me about this scene is how connected you feel to this young girl. You can feel her fear, excitement and wonder that she is experiencing. It is all achieved, thanks to the amazing story, wonderful animation and unique, but relatable characters.
Parents have very little to worry about in this film. In a few scenes, there is some mild language, but that's it. I recommend it for ages 5 to 18. It is intended to be a kid's film, but because of the mature and inspiring story, I believe that teenagers and young adults will enjoy it as well. I give it 4 ½ out of 5 stars because it only has one small issue with the dubbing and voice-overs, but it is truly a work of art and something the whole family can enjoy watching. This film is available on DVD on January 17, 2017 so, go check it out. You're sure to enjoy this adventure.
Reviewed by Gerry O., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic. For more reviews by youth, visit kidsfirst dot org.