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The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that A Long Way North is a beautifully made, hand-drawn animated film set in late 19th-century Russia. It follows an aristocratic teenager as she goes in search of her grandfather, whose presumably failed quest to find the North Pole has left her family in disgrace. Sasha is brave and resourceful and often in peril: She runs away from her family, jumps on a moving train, survives a shipwreck, and is lost in a snowstorm. Other characters are also in danger, injured, and even presumed dead; they also argue and threaten each other (at least once with a gun), and some men insult/leer at Sasha, both on the boat and in the bar where she works for a time. There's very mild language ("fool," "idiot"), as well as some drinking and smoking. Although some of Sasha's choices are a bit iffy, her courage and perseverance pay off, and ultimately the movie has strong messages about loyalty and doing what's right instead of what's convenient or easy.
What's the story?
At the start of LONG WAY NORTH, in late-1800s Russia, young, aristocratic Sasha is devastated when her beloved grandfather's ship goes missing during his quest to find the North Pole. When the search for him is abandoned and her family is left in disgrace, Sasha is determined to find out what happened. Despite her parents wishes to see her married off to an appropriate suitor, she runs away, leaving her comfortable life behind to embark on an epic adventure to save the person she loves most.
Is it any good?
This is a beautiful hand-drawn animated film with a wonderful story. Sasha's parents want her to stop dreaming, act appropriately, and get married, but she does none of those things, instead finding her inner strength and believing in herself as her instincts take her on the adventure of a lifetime. The movie could have been a typical princess story, but instead it explores how Sasha rises to the challenge of surviving on her own.
Long Way North isn't in a rush to tell its story. Viewers are allowed take in the gorgeous animation and see Sasha grow into a confident leader who's both knowledgeable and quick to learn. She's told over and over that she doesn't know what she's talking about and that she's not capable of finding her grandfather, but she proves everyone wrong. There's so much to like in Long Way North -- from the beautiful images to the powerful story -- that older kids and parents will love watching it together.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about Long Way North's scary moments. What makes them feel that way? Does something have to be violent to be scary? How much scary stuff can kids handle?
Sasha leaves her comfortable life with no money and no help. Have you ever had to strike out on your own? Or learn something new by yourself? How did it go?
Sasha knows her parents are looking for her, yet she doesn't try to contact them. Do you think she was justified in leaving them with no word of where she was going? What are the dangers of running away?
- In theaters: September 30, 2016
- On DVD or streaming: January 17, 2017
- Cast: Chloé Dunn, Tom Perkins, Vivienne Vermes
- Director: Rémi Chayé
- Studio: Shout! Factory
- Genre: Family and Kids
- Topics: Adventures, Great Girl Role Models
- Character Strengths: Courage, Humility, Perseverance
- Run time: 81 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG
- MPAA explanation: some peril and mild language
- Awards/Honors: Common Sense Seal
- Last updated: September 20, 2019
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