By Ed Sum
(The Vintage Tempest)
Releasing in U.S. cinemas (French & English tracks) — LA and NYC, Friday Sept 30
Venues include Village East (New York), and Laemmle Playhouse 7, Laemmle Monica, University Irvine (Los Angeles)
The animated movie Long Way North is a tonally sombre tale where Sacha (voiced by Chloé Dunn) is seeking freedom from the Russian aristocracy she hails from. Her grandfather Oloukine is missing. He’s a renowned explorer seeking to conquer the North pole, and everybody assumes he’s dead. The ship he captains, the Davai, is lost at sea. Fortunately, for audiences in America, this epic film can be found premiering September 30th in the USA, with more dates to come across this country and perhaps also heading north into Canada too.
Shout! Factory is handling the distribution of the English dub, and I’m looking forward to set sail south to catch it on the big screen where it truly needs to be experienced. Failing that, I’m hopeful a video release will be coming mid next year, when I suspect it will come out.
Rémi Chayé, who’s past work includes the artistic development of The Secret of Kells, graduated to directing this 19th-century post-realistic tale and he’s done a quite remarkable job with the artistic look of this film. Instead of using graduated colours, much of it is rendered in solid tones. There’s a light Disney Princess quality to the lead character, but in my eyes, she strikes me as more like a character from Studio Ghibli. Sacha has the tenacity of Nausicaa from the anime of the same name, and the innocence of Sheeta from Laputa: Castle in the Sky — of which much of the adventure does see the lead character meeting up with “pirates” of sorts. And, of course, there is a lad who takes a liking to her.
The lead character still shines in the dubbed version. While I would love to hear the original voices in the French-Dutch production when it originally released in 2015, this American dubbed production will most likely win over many hearts too. This version features the vocal talents of Dunn, Vivienne Vermes, Peter Hudson, Antony Hickling, Tom Perkins, Geoffrey Greenhill, Clair Harrison-Bullett, Bibi Jacob, Martin Lewis, Tom Morton, Leslie Clack, Kester Lovelace and Damian Corcoran.
Writers Claire Paoletti, Patricia Valeix and Fabrice de Costil crafted a well-meaning tale that not only wants me to look into who found true north (finding the top of the world) but also cheer for Sacha in her quest to save her family honour. When a Prince discounts her as a potential fiancé, there is nothing to save the Chernetsov name. She does not want to be married off. She wants to follow in her grandpa’s footsteps. Shades of Les Misérables can be felt, and while the end is certainly fitting, this film will certainly leave many with a smile.
Further dates include:
Tucson, AZ – Loft Cinema
Santa Fe, NM – CCA Cinematheque
Washington, DC – Angelika Pop-up @ Union Market
Detroit, MI – Cinema Detroit
San Diego, CA – Digital Gym Cinema
Portland, OR – Regal Fox Tower Stadium 10
Austin, TX – Regal Cinema Arbor Cinema
Albuquerque, NM – Guild Cinema