The Red Turtle Review
Date: 2017 May 22nd Monday [15:49] | Posted By: Joe
In an interesting move from Studio Ghibli, rather than look just in Japan for the talent to direct a new animated movie the fabled studio looked around the world to find someone suitable. They found Michaël Dudok de Wit. The movie they made together was The Red Turtle.
We caught up with the director for an exclusive interview.
The film is set for release at UK cinemas from Friday 26th May 2017.
We know you're wondering Is the movie any good? Well read our review and find out!
In Otaku News tradition, this review is spoiler free.
Even before seeing this film, The Red Turtle caught our interest. The film is produced by Studio Ghibli, creators of some of the most loved anime titles including My Neighbour Totoro, Spirited Away and The Tale of the Princess Kaguya. Studio Ghibli were curious about the idea of getting a non-Japanese director to create an animated feature and Hayao Miyazaki was enthusiastic for Michaël Dudok de Wit to direct the film after seeing his Oscar winning short Father and Daughter. Anime director Isao Takahata provided his input for the film as artistic director.
The results are interesting. It is obvious that Dudok de Wit is an experienced animator and storyteller.
The story follows the adventures of an unnamed man, shipwrecked alone on a desert island. On the surface, the story itself is deceptively simple, so it's the execution that raises this movie to an artistic masterpiece.
The story is about a castaway's fight for survival and attempts to leave the island. The pacing is good and is punctuated by dramatic scenes that draw you into the story. Comic relief is provided by the islands crabs, with the director at a BFI Screening and Q&A explaining "They're like that in real life, they're very dumb. All they want to do is eat and hide in their holes".
The film does not have any dialogue. The shipwrecked man will grunt in effort or frustration, and scream "heeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeey!" occasionally. This is something that is very difficult to do effectively, but they manage to pull it off. With a well paced story line, you don't really even notice and it helps you feel how isolated the man is.
The story of the Red Turtle works on multiple levels and is open to different interpretations. There are a lot of layers to this film and they're all very deliberate. You can take the film at face value, or consider that there are other interpretations to the film. It doesn't insult your intelligence. There's also lots of symbolism in the movie to pick up on.
The film is as beautifully animated, as you would expect from any film associated with Studio Ghibli. The animation has a clean, simple look and every frame is executed perfectly. The island is a lush and green tropical paradise. The ocean can be powerful and frightening or calm and blue. The man has a relatable, but timeless quality.
There is plenty detail in the animation to enjoy, that you might not notice on first viewing. For example if you look at the beautiful way the shadows of the characters are cast across the ground, you can see that the animators have spent a lot of time creating a realistic animated movie. Night scenes are shot lacking colour. There are lots of beautiful textured patterns, all very subtle.
The Red Turtle is a cinematic masterpiece, but it might not be for everyone. There's no wise cracking parrot explaining everything, just the isolation of a desert island. It gets you thinking. After watching this we spoke for a good few hours about the possible different interpretations of the film, the hidden meanings and symbolism.
If you're any way into animation, you should watch it.
If you're a film buff, you should watch it.
If you're looking for good story, you should watch it.
It's deceptively simple story, beautifully executed. I can imagine film and animation students will want to watch this for decades to come for a master class in storytelling.
We advise you to watch this movie while you can on the big screen to get the full enjoyment. We also suggest you avoid any plot spoilers. Don't read about the story, watch it first time around and experience it to its full effect.
You can catch the movie at cinemas across the UK from Friday 26th May 2017.
If you do want to know more about this film, you can catch our spoiler free interview with the director.
You can also read more about the production of The Red Turtle on this press release