Pity the poor child who gets dragged along to this crawlingly slow, French-made Arctic exploration animation. In upper-class nineteenth-century St Petersburg, all the talk is of the Davai, a state-of-the-art steam ship missing in the Arctic sea. But young Sasha, niece of the lost vessel’s captain, refuses to believe the Davai has sunk – and when she finds a scrap of paper implying that the rescue parties have been searching in the wrong place, she sets out to bring her beloved uncle home.
The visual style here is pleasingly simple, with round, Moomin-ish faces and washes of icy pastel colour. But the story is pretty flat, spending ages setting up a rivalry between aristocrats that turns out to have no bearing on the story at all. The brunt of the blame, however, has to land on those responsible for the English dub: the bored-sounding voice cast are interchangeably posh, and it’s hard to take a rugged Russian sailor seriously when he sounds like he should be in ‘The Archers’.