There was a time when films aimed at children were mainly concerned with adventure, discovery and instilling a feeling of awe and wonder on young minds. This has been primarily achieved through the medium of animation, whether that’s Disney, Ghibli or film-makers such as Karel Zeman. Whilst animation and anime continue to dominate children’s cinema, that exploratory spirit has gradually faded away. The Prince’s Voyage is a welcome throwback.

When Tom, a simian boy, discovers a stranger washed-up on the beach, he takes him back to the museum where he lives with his scientist guardians. The man, who is also a simian, is badly hurt and claims to be Prince Laurent from a land across the ocean. Whilst the pair become friends, he soon discovers that this society doesn’t have any interest in welcoming outsiders.

The Prince’s Voyage harks back to a gentler age of animation. It’s beautifully crafted but doesn’t have the bells and whistles we’re accustomed to today. Whilst the story appears to meander, co-directors Jean-François Laguionie and Xavier Picard cleverly introduce elements which build up a bigger picture. The Prince’s Voyage is a familiar tale set in a far-away universe. One which uses mystery and intrigue to enchant, enthral and instruct.

The Prince’s Voyage screened at London Film Festival.