THE RED TURTLE
Michael Dudok de Wit and Toshio Suzuki
FILM SYNOPSIS: A sailor stranded on a deserted island builds a series of rafts as he attempts to return home, but each voyage is thwarted by a giant sea turtle with a red shell. After the turtle mysteriously transforms, the sailor learns to appreciate the beauty of an ordinary life lived in tune with nature’s rhythms.
Apart from silent films, I would be hard pressed to say that I’ve seen many dialogue-free films, especially in the last few decades. Yet somehow, Studio Ghibli’s latest endeavor, “The Red Turtle,” delivers that experience in the form of a stranded island castaway story. This is the feature debut of Dutch animator Michaël Dudok de Wit and under the production company of Studio Ghibli, this heartfelt and sincere effort belongs in their celebrated pantheon of work. Much deeper than probably any animated film you’ll see from last year, “The Red Turtle” makes you work a little when it comes to the film’s themes and lessons, playing much more subtle than Disney and Pixar, who are usually pretty straight forward with the lessons they are teaching. “The Red Turtle” remains more ambiguous and this ambiguity is only strengthened by the fact that their are no spoken worlds, leaving the bulk of the heavy lifting to facial expressions and physical actions. Although emotionally weighted, there are comedic moments, like the little sand crabs that are always watching the man, as he builds his wood rafts to try and escape, continuously try to steal his food, and even once try to escape with him. I do not want to delve into too much more detail, because it would be easy to give certain story points away, but overall, “The Red Turtle” is a film that does make you think it over after the credits, and I’m still mulling over what it all means much in the way the television series “Lost” had be scratching my head by the end.
What’s its competition? Basically earning a nomination by being produced by Studio Ghibli, “The Red Turtle” is lucky to have made the final cut. Don’t get be wrong, the film is worthy of a nomination on its own merits, but the Ghibli name had to have helped. In that, almost everything is competition, except for maybe “My Life As A Zucchini,” which was also lucky to get a nomination, is its competition. Most seem to be in the camp that this category is “Zootopia’s” to lose, but I’d lean more toward “Moana” and “Kubo and the Two Strings,” which coincidentally enough both have heavy water elements at play too. All that aside, “The Red Turtle,” though gorgeously done, retreads a few too many ideas, with “Robinson Crusoe” and “Castaway “coming to mind. But to deliver a film without any real dialogue, especially an animated film, is ballsy and is done with a grace that is missing from a lot of the nominees this year, especially the loud and boisterous “Zootopia.”
Previous nominations? This is the third Academy Award nomination for Michael Dudok de Wit. He was previously nominated for:
- FATHER AND DAUGHTER (2000)
Winner, Short Film (Animated)
- THE MONK AND THE FISH (1994)
Nominee, Short Film (Animated)
This is the second Academy Award nomination for Toshio Suzuki. He was previously nominated for:
- THE WIND RISES (2013)
Nominee, Animated Feature Film
“The Red Turtle” (2016) Trailer:
// Produced by Toshio Suzuki, Vincent Maraval, Pascal Caucheteux, Grégoire Sorlat, and Léon Perahia // Directed by Michaël Dudok de Wit //
// Dated Viewed: Wednesday, January 25th, 2017 // STREAMING // 45 films – 33 days //