Long Way North is a French-Danish animated period film directed by Rémi Chayé, spoken in French with English subtitles. The story tells of a young French aristocrat named Sacha, who runs away from home after an embarrassing first ball to embark on an adventure to find her grandfather, who disappeared on an expedition to find the North Pole. Along the way she experiences all the hardships and adventures that this kind of journey entails.
With its minimal 2D graphic style, rough lines and pastel block colours, Long Way North can almost be mistaken for a painting, if the imagery wasn’t in motion. There are some truly gorgeous shots in Long Way North and I thoroughly enjoyed the experience.
The film’s charming art style is juxtaposed quite sharply against its intense subject matter towards the end of the film. It does not shy away from exploring the ways people turn on each other. We see desperation that comes from such a dire situation and what men will do to each other.
The film also explores themes of dysfunctional families, duty and honour. Sacha’s mother says at one point that she misses her father’s fits of rage. What’s that about? And a surreal dreamlike sequence where Sacha finds the perfectly preserved, frozen corpse of her grandpa and his journal, lovingly hugging him one last time before the ice splits and permanently separates them.
The entire voice cast puts in amazing performances, the sound designers, Foley artists and musicians who all worked so hard to turn over an amazing film. I would be upset if I failed to mention my favourite character in the film, who is introduced as Shackle. When he is not stealing food he is eating the rigging. Shackle is a dog.
By Jared Berman
This review is a part of SWINE Magazine’s Melbourne International Film Festival coverage.