The film won the Special Jury Prize at the 2016 Cannes Film Festival and was nominated for Best Animated Feature Film at this year’s Oscars. This gorgeous French-Belgian-Japanese co-production was the result of the Tokyo-based animation powerhouse, Studio Ghibli, offering to produce a film for Dutch-British animator Michael Dudok de Wit, so impressed were they with his 2000 Oscar-winning short Father And Daughter.
Through the story of a man shipwrecked on a tropical island inhabited by turtles, crabs and birds, The Red Turtle recounts the milestones in the life of a human being. The tiny insulated ecosystem in De Wit’s film is also a microcosm of 21st century human experience.
The protagonist is a man first seen both literally and metaphorically lost at sea, tempest-tossed upon overwhelming swells. He ends up on a small rocky atoll with bamboo forest, freshwater pool and beach. Initially, his sole company is a curious chorus of pet-like crabs. Our hero quickly gets the lie of the land, and determines to make his escape. Yet every bamboo raft that he fashions gets destroyed by something mysterious in the sea. As an expression of his frustration and desperate need for escape into a less lonely existence, the man commits an act of cruel violence against the creature, only to witness it not fade, but suffer a sea-change into something rich and strange.
With no dialogue beyond grunts and the occasional shouted ‘Hey!’, events here are orchestrated only by the sounds of the environment, Laurent Perez Del Mar’s score and by the beautiful imagery. It lends de Wit’s film an admirable back-to-basics purity that matches the reduction of its protagonist to the simplest subsistence. The result is a parable of Darwinian drudgery and survivalist routines that is every so often disrupted by freak occurrences of nature. The magic of The Red Turtle ultimately comes down to the miracle of organic matter’s transformative recycling. Life always finds a way, and death is always a part of that.
Click below for reviews and more information.
Venue: William Loveless Hall