Movie Review: ‘Red Turtle’

Nowadays Pixar is often credited as the animation studio who takes big risks on movies that are artistically and emotionally powerful and unique. But it is often forgotten that before Steve Jobs and John Lasseter were making significant impacts in this artform, across the Pacific at Studio Ghibli, animators and artists were creating powerful animated features which resonated with global audiences. After so many years of success one would think this production company would begin to get lazy but as their 2016 film Re Turtle proves, they are pushing the boundaries now more than ever.

Though the famed studio traditionally works with animators and storytellers in their turtle1native Japan, this largely silent film is from the creative mind of Dutch director Michael Dudok de Wit. The focus of the film is a nameless man who is stranded on an island. His attempts to escape from his solitude are thwarted by a mysterious red turtle. In a fit of anger he kills the turtle and as his guilt sets in, the creature transforms into a beautiful woman. From there they inevitably fall in love and have a son and the three of them make the island their home. Through a series of beautiful animation we see this family unit grow and mature and face adversity together, while a group of turtles with red shell seem to watch over them.

Under the direction of Michael Dudok de Wit, the style of animation has a much more European look over the more stylistic Japanese anime style that is usually associated with Studio Ghibli films. Given the lack of dialogue of this film it falls entirely on the imagery to tell this story and the artists given the task of carrying Red Turtle succeed with flying colors. What it lacks in flair it more than makes up for in charm and raw emotion which absorbs the audience and leaves them thinking about the experience long after it is over.