I watched The Red Turtle a few days before 2016 ended (and still this wasn’t the last film that I watched, since we also went to “I, Daniel Blake” on New Year’s Eve, but we’ll talk about that another time). It was sweetjaneeyre who advised me to go and I’m more than thankful to her for doing so!
A co-production of Studio Ghibli, Wild Bunch and Why Not Productions, this French-Belgian-Japanese animation by Dutch-British director Michael Dudok de Wit was awarded the Prix spécial Un Certain Regard, at the Cannes’ Festival 2016. It doesn’t come as a shock since this film, multicultural as it is, can “speak” in a universal language, without saying a word.
A castaway washes up on a desert island and desperately seeks a way out of there but a red turtle living on this island, won’t let him go that easily. We never learn when or where everything happens and we don’t even discover what the man’s mother tongue is. But still, from the film’s very beginning we identify ourselves with him, more and more as the action goes on. Besides, the feelings of fear, nostalgia and the vitalizing power of love are universal.
This film is a tribute to nature -not its beauty, as the director always underlines in every interview he gets asked about. He doesn’t want to speak about beautiful landscapes or idyllic sunsets. He just wants to praise nature’s strength: it can sow, give birth, raise and take back everything it creates. Influenced by mythology and with the eternal question of why are we here (and where will we end up), a question that seems to agonize de Wit from the very beginning (e.g. his short film Father and Daughter), he creates a film with a beginning, a middle and -unfortunately- an unavoidable end.
The realisation of this film took five years of work and that’s very obvious. Nature’s representation through drawings is impeccable and the music that was chosen to accompany the pictures is just perfect. A film that, besides being aesthetically pleasing, will make you feel, wonder, and discuss a lot after its screening.
You can watch the trailer, here.