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Welcome to Animation Globe where HeadStuff’s animation expert Joseph Learoyd analyses films of the form from around the world. This entry is on 2007 Finnish animation Quest for a Heart.
I had never seen Quest for a Heart before deciding to review it for this Animation Globe entry. In fact, I hadn’t even heard of it. The 2007 film, titled Rollin sydan in Finnish, is about a mischievous little troll named Rolli who embarks on a quest, alongside his polar opposite – a female elf, to find a mystical magical heart from the Land of Winter. This is in order to save the trolls and elves’ respective villages.
Based on a popular character from Finnish television, created by and originally played in live action by Allu Tuppurainen, the movie is Rolli’s first and to date only animated film adaptation. Having no familiarity with the character, I had no idea what to expect. However, in some respects, going into this so blindly was probably a benefit, enabling me to experience this afresh, appreciating it as its own stand-alone entity. While Tuppurainen voices the main character here too in Finnish, in the English dub I viewed, he is voiced by Mackenzie Crook of Pirates of the Caribbean and The Office fame who brings an annoying quality yet also a somewhat lovable charm to the hero.
What stands out right away is the animation style. It’s 2D hand drawn aesthetic immediately evokes memories of 80’s animated classics like Treasure Island and Oliver Twist produced by Burbank Animation Studios. There is a beauty to the style often not found with modern CGI. This film did not have an overly high budget compared to many English-language animated movies – although it is one of the most expensive Finnish films ever made. Despite less resources though, its overall quality – in terms of the flow of the narrative and the character designs – is superb.
It is easy to see why it is beloved by many, despite being less known outside of Finland. The musical score is cute and compliments the fantasy theme well. Looking at the colours, we see sharp contrasts between the background environments – which are similar to that of the Asterix animated films – and the characters. This pushes the characters to the foreground, highlighting their movements more clearly. This works well in regards to depicting our hero. Rolli is a grumpy creature who makes for an unlikely protagonist. Yet as a viewer, one can’t help but be drawn in by him.
Despite some strange and often crude moments – some of which most likely having been lost in translation – Quest for a Heart is enjoyable for what it is. That said, I imagine viewers who grew up with the character of Rolli would be more affectionate towards it.
Quest for a Heart does many things right. But it also has a lot of smaller issues such as pacing, (something that for the 78-minute running time, it should be able to better handle). That said, it set out to revitalize a huge part of Finnish fiction and in that regard, it did what it said on the tin. Is it a must watch family animation with a perfect narrative? Most definitely not. Is it a depiction of a cultural icon with gorgeous visuals that allows you to escape reality for a while? It sure is, and in that quest, it found its heart.