(Warning contains some spoilers for The Red Turtle)
The Red Turtle is an animated fantasy film from director Michaël Dudok de Wit. It was nominated for Best Animated Feature Film at last year’s Oscars but has only just arrived in UK cinemas. Most excitingly legendary Japanese animated filmmakers Studio Ghibli produced it.
Virtually silent, barring a few cries of “Hey”, The Red Turtle is a completely unique film experience. Set entirely on a small island it follows a nameless man who gets stranded there. His initial attempts to escape the island on rafts are consistently foiled by an unseen presence, soon revealed to be the titular Red Turtle.
When the turtle come up onto the beach the man, in his anger, flips it onto its back, and leave it to die. When the turtle magically transforms into a woman, the rest of the film just sees their lives play out together on this island. It is an incredibly simple story, told entirely through visuals rather than dialogue or exposition, and yet there is a lot to be read there. Incredibly joyous, and yet often tinged with a touch of sadness, this is life played out over the 80 minute run time.
Given the lack of dialogue The Red Turtle was going to rely on heavily of its visuals, and thankfully with Studio Ghibli producing, Dudok de Wit and his team have created one of the most beautiful films of the year. The films very simple animation style reflects the overall simplicity of the film, but still manages to be so striking. When accompanied by Laurent Perez del Mar’s beautiful score it truly makes The Red Turtle a feast for the senses. The score particularly elevates the dreamy sequences of the film, giving them a real fantastical edge.
The Red Turtle is an absolute triumph. Michaël Dudok de Wit takes great inspiration from the producers, Studio Ghibli, in creating such a beautifully crafted, visually stunning, and emotional look at life through the prism of a shipwreck story.