The Legend of Sarila



Adventure tale about Inuit youths is spirited but perilous.
  • Review Date: July 1, 2014
  • Rated: NR
  • Genre: Family and Kids
  • Release Year: 2014
  • Running Time: 82 minutes

What parents need to know

Educational value

Viewers will gain some cursory exposure to the Inuit tribe's rituals and living conditions at the dawn of the 20th century.

Positive messages

Legend of Sarila offers positive messages about community, doing what's right, listening to your heart, and following your calling. It also puts a premium on respecting elders and the role of every person in any community.

Positive role models

Though some characters are simplistic, main characters are well-intentioned and good-hearted and struggle realistically to balance their own needs with the needs of the group. They grieve for lost family members and strive to respect both the people in their community and the land -- even in the face of starvation and challenges to their way of life. There are a number of characters who demonstrate compassion and integrity, and men and women are equally respected in the group.

Violence & scariness

Though no animals are killed on-screen, the film deals frequently with issues of hunting them, as well as with life and death in general in a way that could frighten younger children. There is one brief scene of a disliked elder dying and numerous scenes of peril. The community risks starvation if it can't find animals to hunt. In one scene, a pregnant woman lies in danger of dying if she does not get any meat to eat soon. In another, a sick dog is threatened to be sacrificed until someone steps forward to try to diagnose and treat its illness instead. Characters discuss building weapons to hunt and kill animals with a gun or a spear to the heart. A child asks her older brother if he will die, and the deaths of parents in the recent past is discussed. Animal parts are used for rituals and include a caribou heart and the bones of a dead animal. And, throughout the film, a trio of young characters narrowly evades death from falling into ice, careening off into a crevasse, or drowning. There also are a few scenes of menacing crows and conjured smoke monsters meant to intimidate or suffocate their victims.

Sexy stuff
Not applicable

Very mild insulting language is used in a few scenes, including calling characters "stupid," "foolish," or "scum."

Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking
Not applicable

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that Legend of Sarila contains a brief scene of an elderly community member dying, as well as frequent mentions of life and death and numerous scenes of peril. Though no animals are killed on-screen, the film deals frequently with issues of hunting them. Deceased parents are referenced, and the fear of starvation is a pervasive plot point. However, the film overall is a triumph for the ideas of community, respect, and intergenerational support, as well as for the importance of living in harmony with each other and the land. 

Kids say

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What's the story?

When an evil shaman curses his own Inuit village, youths Markussi, Apic, and Poutulik head off in search of the land of Sarila, said to contain a bounty of food and sustenance according to the clan's wise woman, only available to the pure of heart. Along the way, the trio's relationships are tested -- to themselves, their tribe, and each other -- as they face one perilous obstacle after the next, and all struggle with their identities among their people.

Is it any good?


LEGEND OF SARILA got a lot of flak in initial reviews for the film's repackaging and the changing of its former name (Frozen Land) to compete with Disney's runaway success Frozen. But, taken out of that hopeless game of comparison, it stands on its own as a unique look at a different way of life, that of the Inuit people at the turn of the 20th century struggling to balance the needs of the tribe while living in harmony with the land. It has positive intergenerational relationships, respect for elders and all living things, spiritualism, and enchanting landscapes in a sometimes dazzling 3-D animation that is the first such effort to come out of Canada.

However, there is a high amount of sustained peril in the film, and it deals frankly and directly with life and death as natural phases in the existence of the tribe members. Parents will see a lot here to recommend in terms of dutiful young people with integrity and loyalty to their roots, but it's probably too frightening for younger children. 

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about living off the land. How do the characters balance their respect for animals with their own need to survive?

  • How do the community members support each other in hard times? Does your community feel this tight-knit? What things can people do in communities to feel closer?

  • Why do you think Markussi has difficulty being the community shaman? What makes him decide to accept his role? What is your role in your house right now? 

Movie details

DVD release date:July 1, 2014
Cast:Christopher Plummer, Genevieve Bujold
Director:Nancy Savard
Studio:Phase 4 Films
Genre:Family and Kids
Topics:Magic and fantasy, Adventures, Friendship, Science and nature
Run time:82 minutes
MPAA rating:NR

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  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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Parent Written bymomof3gurlz August 2, 2014

Kinda creepy

The movie looked decent at first, although the animation is low-budget and strange. About half an hour into the movie my 8 year-old daughter said "Mom, this is scary... I don't think it's appropriate." There was a guy doing evil magic. If you don't choose to avoid this movie, at least make sure you're watching it with your kids so that you can turn it off if necessary.
What other families should know
Too much violence
Parent Written byHayhay October 9, 2015

Excellent movie

The movie was a great tale of community, friendship and working together. The scary parts were very short lived and even my sensitive 7 year old was OK watching through them. The main characters face trials but always work together to overcome the challenges. It was very entertaining for adults as well as kids. Topics such as hunting, death and starvation are hinted at, but never visualised. I found this an excellent family movie to watch together.
What other families should know
Great messages
Great role models


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