As we end the special guest reviews for this wonderful week, we’ll be looking at what may be the most visually interesting trailer of the Annecy International Film Festival. For the final feature, I’ll let Maciek set the scene and just let you all watch the trailer.
“Long way North” (Tout en haut du monde, Remi Chaye, France)
Of all the movies at the festival, this is the one most people talk about and there is a darn good reason for it. It’s an artistic gem, with each frame looking like something out of an art book.
The story is set 1892 St. Petersburg and follows Sasha, a teenage Russian aristocrat. Sasha is obsessed with her grandfather who traveled on an expedition to the North Pole but never returned. After her family is humiliated, Sasha runs away from home. With her grandfather’s notes, she decides to join crew of explorers in order to find his old ship and recover his diary.
Much like “April and Extraordinary World,”this is mainly an adventure movie, but with an abundance of heart and emotion. Sasha is a very likeable heroine and her story arc at moments reminiescent of Disney’s “Mulan”(the sequence of her running away from home is very similar.) Before getting to the North Pole there is a part when Sasha loses all her money and is forced to work as a waitress, while living among common people for a month. It’s very enjoyable to see her progress and learn valuable skills in a believable fashion. It would be hard to swallow that a blue-blooded aristocrat who spent her life in luxury is suddenly competent when facing forces of nature.
Speaking of which, all the scenes in the Arctic is just phenomenal! Most of the film is a survival thriller with plenty of tension, drama, suspense and – again – fantastic animation! While some of the previous movies I watched could have been satisfying on the small screen, this is the one I’m truly glad I got to see on the big screen, as you can appreciate the experience and animated craftsmanship.
Of all the movies I’ve seen at the festival, this is the one I hope is honored with an Oscar nomination at the Academy Awards . It’s a great combination of exceptional art working with fantastic storytelling.
The trailer left me breathless. I love this type of storybook animation with diverse color palettes and few to no outlines. The shading is just incredible, as you can see in the number of locations and Dusk/Dawn settings with limited sunlight. Even with the stiff pace of the sequences, the trailer has a very human feel thanks to the subtle, facial impressions and reactions to each line of dialogue.
Long Way North looks to be the film we were all hoping Brave would be, where a strong, female character would go off on an adventure to really prove her worth. Sasha already has a lot of dimension, as she’s motivated by honor, reputation, and family compared to Merida’s singular, rebellious ways. You get a sense of community here, as Sasha needs to interact with the rest of the world and form a crew to have a chance of finding her grandfather’s legacy. The comparisons to Mulan are also there, but I believe this movie will avoid the Disney’s film only notable flaw of dated, wacky comedic characters.
We don’t get adventure films like this too often, where we are taken on an actual expedition. We associate this kind of story to pulpy tales of danger like Indiana Jones or period pieces like the upcoming In The Heart of the Sea or The Finest Hours. Ocean travel is outdated, but it makes a great setting for terror, loneliness, betrayal, awe, and even comedy. For the animators, the open sea is the perfect landscape for gorgeous visuals.
Water is the #1 canvas to determine how good an animation studio is. Water must move with the perfect flow and be stylized to capture the ripples or an incredible wave or else your property looks lazy and static. Just check out Song of the Sea, the underrated classic of last year, which uses nearly every shade of blue in the spectrum to the best I’ve seen in cinema. You could even take Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker as a fantastic example; it doesn’t matter if the graphics aren’t up to date, the aesthetics will last forever.
This has officially become my most anticipated film from the entire festival. Every breathtaking set piece and the engrossing story make me want to watch it right now. I’d even watch it if it did not live up to the hype, because the distinctive style merits collecting every frame and putting it on my wall.
So that’s been Maciek’s run covering the films from the Annecy film festival! He has given us a glorious bounty of knowledge and critique on these films that may hit American shelves soon. I would like to thank him personally for all of his hard work with the website and I hope to collaborate with him once again. Keep an eye out on his works…something he never mentioned to me until now was that he created a student film for his animation degree. He created it over the course of a year, 100% hand drawn and with professional voice actors. Hopefully he can get it subtitled soon, but this really shows his level of dedication!
We have one article waiting in the wings to cap off this magnificent week, as these articles have indicated that animation fans can’t ignore foreign films anymore…but what’s to change in the upcoming years? Come to OneOfUs.Net tomorrow and find out! And if you can, follow Maciek’s comic series “Lil i Put” on Facebook!