Long Way North – A Journey of Strength and Determination
Imagine you were a young Russian aristocrat who was part of a very prominent family in 1882. Your grandfather, the renowned captain of the most advanced Arctic ships Russia has made, has been missing for over a year after heading out to explore the North Pole. This has tarnished your family’s honor and caused tensions within the rest of your family. What would you do? If you are Sasha in the animated film Long Way North, you run away from home and go on an epic journey to find your grandfather, no matter the cost.
This film from Director Remi Chaye is rich in both story and animation. Sasha has become one of my all-time favorite animated characters. She is intelligent, resourceful, a little rebellious, and an overall a strong female character. When we are first introduced to her you realize she is not like other girls of her age at that time. Over the course of the film, we watch her grow as a person as her understanding of how the real world works expands. What does not change is her determination to find her grandfather, knowing full well that what she might find could be heart-breaking.
Although animated, all the characters felt as real as if in a live action film; from the stern captain of the ship who reluctantly takes Sasha on her journey, to the Captain’s first mate with a gambling problem, to the young boy Katch who finds a connection with Sasha. The movie is well paced and only 80 minutes long, with every scene contributing to the plot of the movie. There is a balance of drama, humor, and suspense between the scenes but the story never gets away from itself. It has solid direction and editing, and the animation does an excellent job of capturing the vast frozen wasteland of the Arctic. There were some moments that tugged at my heart-strings and I will admit that near the end I got a bit misty eyed.
Long Way North is in French with English subtitles, but don’t let that put you off watching it. This film is as good as any of the top animated films that have come from the U.S. this year and deserves a wider audience. The main character is an excellent role-model and the plot teaches a great life lesson for all ages about never losing site of your goal no matter the obstacles in your path.