Director: Rémi Chayé
Runtime: 81 minutes
Cast: Chloé Dunn, Vivienne Vermes, Peter Hudson, Antony Hickling, Tom Perkins, Geoffrey Greenhill, Claire Harrison-Bullett, et al…
Plot (taken from IMDb): In 1882, a young Russian aristocrat goes on an epic adventure to find out what happened to her grandfather and save her family’s reputation.
Long Way north is a beautifully animated, whimsical adventure from some of the people behind the outstanding Song of the Sea and The Secret of Kells. Its sweeping landscapes are as stunningly realised as its plot, that follows the harsh journey of a young Russian aristocrat in the tail-end of the 19th-century, looking for her grandfather – the famous explorer – in order to save her family’s reputation.
In going on her adventure, Sacha (Chloé Dunn) abandons her arranged marriage. She’s not cut out for the married life, and you are shown that she has always yearned for adventure, just like her grandfather. It’s great to see a film with a strong female lead, Sacha’s story is difficult, sure, but she remains strong and hungry for adventure throughout – no matter the hardships she faces.
It turns out that Sacha’s journey is a long and arduous one filled with moments that would test the most seasoned explorers. The environment is harsh and unforgiving. It’s freezing, scary and vast. Finding her grandfather and his famous ship turned out to be a tough, gruelling task. Yet, in its harshness, there is always beauty to be found. This is brought to the fore with a staggeringly beautiful art-style. Long Way North’s bold and bright pastel work evokes the period with a delightful charm often unseen in today’s animated film landscape.
Long Way North is a piece of art that has come effortlessly to life. There’s plenty to digest and it’s a feast for the eyes throughout, a visual tour de force if you will. Director Rémi Chayé really knows their way around visuals, and thankfully, the plot is good too. This is a film that reassures you of the beauty that can be found in even the harshest places. Many plot points here carry a good amount of emotional weight, and the imagery is poignant and striking.
Unfortunately, Long Way North’s English dub doesn’t do the film any justice. The voices often lack emotion, grossly going against the poignant imagery and emotional plot. The voice-acting in the English dub is akin to that of cheap video game voice-over work. They say the lines, but they lack emotional nuances of the original. Luckily, the DVD version in the UK contains both the English language and original French language options. I’d highly recommend watching the film in French, as God intended. It’s a real shame, too, that the film isn’t available on blu-ray, because visuals this good deserve to be seen in the highest of definitions.
Long Way North is a visually outstanding film propped up by a quality plot that all members of the family should enjoy. Just watch it in French.