23 October 2003 | barnabyrudge
Enjoyable Disney adventure.
The Island At The Top Of The World is based on a novel by Ian Cameron entitled The Lost Ones. The novel was set in modern times, but the film is set in Edwardian times. It is one of the better live-action Disney films, with an interesting and exciting plot, solid performances and an unusual setting. Only the weak special effects give the viewer something to gripe about.
Donald Sinden is splendid as Sir Anthony Ross, an elderly London gentleman who is desperate to find out what happened to his son Donald. Apparently, young Donald went off to the Arctic several months earlier in search of a mythical place "where whales go to die", but he disappeared during the expedition. Sir Anthony refuses to believe that his son is dead, so he assembles a search party and they set off for the freezing polar ice-cap aboard a French airship. As it turns out, right up at the top of the world there exists a lost colony of Viking throwbacks, hidden from the rest of the world and able to survive because the valley in which they live is heated by volcanic materials. Young Donald has been living with these folk since his strange disappearance, but the arrival of his father's search party causes trouble and the Viking elders vote to kill the intruders.
It's every bit as unusual and fascinating as it sounds, and is a truly worthwhile film for kids and adults alike. There are a few mis-calculations (few films, after all, are perfect) but not too many. The special effects, as already suggested, are somewhat below par. Also, much of the Viking dialect is translated by David Hartman's character, and the task of listening to it in one language, then again in English, is slightly tedious. However, all things considered, this is a very enjoyable and entertaining production.