Long Way North is at its best when nothing’s happening. The French-Danish animation, set in St Petersburg and voiced in English, unfurls languidly, idling over shots of the sun setting over the Winter Palace, or seagulls slowly circling a ship adrift in a blue ocean. The misty, hand-drawn landscapes and stylised blocks of colour create a compelling visual style that’s slightly at odds with the familiar arc of the plot. It follows Sasha, a 17th century aristocratic girl who embarks on a quest to reach the North Pole in a bid to save the reputation of her explorer grandfather.
The plummy voice acting is a little grating, but Sasha’s an engaging female lead, quick to learn and unwilling to accept help from the boys. Long Way North lacks the dramatic clout to become a classic, but with striking visuals and a beautiful score, it’s a parent-friendly alternative to some of the more saccharine mainstream animations.