“The Legend of Sarila” is a Canadian 3D animated feature about three young Inuit who search for a mystical place where food is plentiful, but only the pure of heart can enter. It’s a classic battle between good and evil, the young and the old, selfless versus selfish.

The animation is rough compared to other 3D animated features by bigger studios, still this feature is a small gem. Sure, there are cute animals, but as a parent you don’t have to be worried about being bombarded with commercials and related toys and products.

In a time before cellphones and even televisions and widespread communications, a small village is led by their shaman. This tribe lives on the edge of the North American continent in 1910. It is Autumn and while the land has yet to chill over, a human heart has been frosted by the thrill of power. The aged shaman Croolik (voiced by Christopher Plummer) has called upon the dark powers. As a result, the goddess Sedna (Elisapie Isaac) has taken all the animals away.

As winter approaches and the ice freezes over, the hunters return without food and the villagers face starvation. The old woman, Saya (Geneviève Bujold, suggests that someone be sent in search of Sarila, something that no one in the village has seen, but all have heard of. Although the shaman Croolik scoffs at the idea, his power threatened, he agrees to hold a ceremony to choose who should go on this journey. His companion, a scrappy crow Kwatak (James Kidnie), mistakenly chooses Apik (Rachelle Lefevre) and the boy she has been betrothed to, Poutulik (Tim Rozon), the son of the village chief.

Croolik wishes to rid the village of Markussi (Dustin Milligan) because Croolik senses Markussi has spiritual powers of a young shaman. Hissing his instructions, Croolik instructs the bird to choose Markussi.

There are other reasons for Croolik to hate Markussi. Markussi and his sister are orphaned in an incident that also took the life of Saya and Croolik’s son. Markussi’s father had been chief and because his best friend is Poutulik, Markussi is under the protection of the current chief.

With the threesome on their journey, Croolik intends to use dark magic to insure the failure of this expedition and the death of Markussi. Markussi must also embrace his gifts and make a choice between selfish or selfless uses. That’s a worthy lesson as are the lesson about friendship and cooperation between the three young adult Inuit. As a matter of survival, the Inuit must listen to nature in a practical sense as well as in a spiritual sense (Sendra).

As I mentioned earlier, the animation is rough, but it holds a charm of its own and you get a sense of the beauty of endless snow. The battle between good and evil doesn’t leave any gray areas, making the storyline simplistic for adults, but clear enough for young children. The threesome face threats and danger, but nothing extended and realistic enough to give youngsters nightmares. Nancy Florence Savard directs.

The Legend of Sarila” (La Légend de Sarila) opened on 1 November 2013 at the Laemmle Royal Theatre at 11523 Santa Monica, Los Angeles.  Ends 7 November 2013.

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