The Red Turtle is co-written and directed by Michael Dudok de Wit and is his stunning full length debut. It is a co-production between Wild Bunch (Pan’s Labyrinth, Spirited Away) and Studio Ghibli (Arrietty, When Marnie Was There).
It tells the story of a man out at sea, at the mercy of the waves, who is lucky enough to find himself washed up on a remote island. It is a lush island, with a rich bamboo forest and diverse life. After finding fresh water and some fruit to eat, he turns his mind to the prospect of escape.
He uses the fallen wood in the forest to construct a raft, stocks up on fresh fruit and strikes out to sea. Before he can get far however, his raft is destroyed from beneath by an unknown sea creature. Frustrated, he heads back to the island and prepares himself for another try.
He builds another raft, but again it is destroyed before he can make any progress and by this time the creatures of the island have grown accustomed to him and he has a little retinue of adorable crabs.
He grows increasingly impatient and when his raft is destroyed for a third time he sees the culprit, a giant red turtle. It is becoming apparent that he may be on this island far longer than he expected.
The Red Turtle is deceptively simple in both appearance and story, but is in fact an extremely complex tale, dealing with many different issues. It is a very clever analysis of the human condition, as well as a damning look at humanity’s relationship with nature and it’s sheer power. It carries a very important environmental message too, which we would do well to heed.
The animation is quite magnificent, so good in fact that our TV kept on thinking that it was in 3D and requesting that we don our 3D glasses.
This is an extraordinary film, incredibly powerful and an emotional roller coaster. Everyone should have this in their collection, just make sure you have some tissues ready for the end.
The Red Turtle is available to buy now on DVD and Double Play (Blu-ray and DVD).