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October 14, 2016

Long Way North: Animated tale thrives on female empowerment


Kate Taylor / The Globe and Mail

Who knew the Russians have their own version of the elusive Northwest Passage?

Their link between Atlantic and Pacific is, of course, the Northeast Passage. In the animated film Long Way North, the prospect of the passage and the lure of the pole draw a czarist-era admiral to the Arctic – but it’s probably the theme of female empowerment that will attract parents and kids to this winsome tale about how his granddaughter sets out to follow him.

The French-Danish co-production is beautifully animated with a delightful paper cutout and oil-crayon look that delicately conjures up ice, snow and fog. The story is a sweet tale with simple sentiments about a 15-year-old St. Petersburg debutante who runs away to find her grandfather’s missing ship.

For the conquering Sacha, no pack ice can prove too crushing nor hardened sailor too obdurate: It’s only the unusual setting and subtle animation that raise this adventure above the formulaic.