The Red Turtle REVIEW

The Red Turtle REVIEW

0 comments 📅25 September 2017, 12:01

Don’t believe everything that advertising tells you; The Red Turtle is not a Studio Ghibli film, at least not one that you would be familiar with. There are elements of the story that match what we have come to expect of Ghibli – nature and humanity’s dependence on it being a key part of the story, for example – but it’s meant to be different from the legendary anime studio’s previous work.

When Ghibli’s Toshio Suzuki and Isao Takahata first approached Michael Dudok de Wit (see page 48 for more from the Dutch filmmaker) following his short film Father and Daughter, one of the perks the pair offered was free rein on the project. They trusted in his ability to create a good story, despite it being his first ever feature film, and the result is this simply told yet emotional tale of life and love stripped of its complexities.

The Red Turtle follows an unnamed protagonist marooned on an island and desperate to find a way to survive. He starts to learn how to use the natural world around him to his advantage, making clothes with seal pelts, cutting down bamboo to make a raft and even discovering a freshwater lake to drink from. The man barely speaks, only shouting ‘hey’ when he first washes up on the island and is searching for help. His attempts to escape are thwarted by a mysterious red turtle that will do whatever it takes to keep him there.

It’s when the story reaches this point that things start to get interesting. With so much time devoted to our hero’s attempts to adapt to nature, the first half is fairly slow and uneventful. But when the titular red turtle rather surprisingly turns into a woman and an unlikely love begins to blossom between the protagonist and former chelonian, de Wit’s directorial chops really come to the fore – there’s something spiritual in the beautifully simplistic way that he approaches the unusual love story.

The film’s apparent simplicity is emphasised by its modest animation; using a plain brush-stroke art style, The Red Turtle features a combination of 2D digital animation and charcoal drawings. When a film has no dialogue, it’s also important for the music to take centre stage and Laurent Perez del Mer’s stunning score does just that, elaborating on the characters’ emotions and highlighting moments of love and fear. Music is also used to great effect when it comes to the ocean’s unpredictable and often cruel nature. Director and composer know when to employ music, ocean waves or silence, and their collaboration is a highlight of the film. Reviewed by Roxy Simons

Release: 18 September 2017 (VoD), 25 September 2017 (DVD & Blu-ray)
From: Studiocanal
Format: VoD, DVD & Blu-ray
Price (RRP): £24.99 (VoD), £19.99 (DVD), £24.99 (Blu-ray)
Age Rating: PG

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