The Red Turtle (2016) – Ode to Joy

In films, dialogues are a powerful element in telling a story. It’s the main key for actors in conveying and speaking between characters in addition to gestures and expressions. The key to dialogue lies in every film. However, silence is also an element of delivery in telling a story. Myroslav Slaboshpytskyi’sThe Tribe” is one of the examples, a movie where all the actors spoke using sign language. In “The Red Turtle”, there is no story from beginning to end. There is no other main carriage. A man stranded on an uninhabited little island is just the premise; the Cast Away style.

“The Red Turtle” doesn’t have an important idea in conveying what you want to say. But, this is a gorgeous movie. This film is a collaboration between Studio Ghibli and Michael Dudok de Wit, a Dutch animator. De Wit get us to suspend and tell stories through interpretation and imagination. He taught us to use as much thought as possible. It’s a movie about nature, the main theme of the movie. It got the Little Mermaid vibe but I prefer to call it this as the Old Man and the Sea. It’s like a merging of references from books, fantasy films, and others.

Films are a voice and opinion from the writer and director but films can be also a medium of entertainment. “The Red Turtle” uses both of them well. We found the main protagonist imprisoned by solitude in the middle of the ocean on an island. There are no residents other than the crab herd who are having fun. There are birds, turtles, crickets, nature, trees, the sound of waves, and others. Coincidentally, nature sings together with the protagonist. And when the protagonist has united with nature, he discovers a miracle. However, has the protagonist been looking at the situation so far from a different perspective?

“The Red Turtle” is also not a film about survival. It’s a movie with lots of thematical, symbolism, and subtle messages. There is a twist where you don’t think too much about the logic in this film. And after you finish watching this film, you still ask what’s the true meaning of the title film. Why red, why not other colors? This movie inspires us to look at the protagonist mind. The man discovered the existence of the red turtle accidentally after repeatedly falling into the middle of the sea. Caused by the red turtle, it’s difficult if we tell stories through reality. It’s also difficult to see it as being of fantasy and hallucination.

The film explores the relationship of the protagonist and the red turtle as in Adam and Eve. The island is a paradise for both of them, calm, peaceful, and there is no one, there are no outsiders. The protagonist thought from the start that he couldn’t get out of the island. However, he was more at ease and at ease because there were only him and the red turtle alone. It’s about home and the most important things in our lives. Just look at “Apocalypse Now“. From the perspective of Colonel Kurtz, we can understand the reason the antagonist didn’t want to go home. Both have one answer: because they both have a decent home and a happy family.

Talking about animation, we got lots of animated films in 2016. There are “Zootopia”, “Moana“, “Kubo and the Two Strings”, “My Life as a Zucchini”, etc. We even got “Your Name” and “A Silent Voice”. If we look at the script, “The Red Turtle” takes the cakes because it’s tight. However, the animation in this movie is very simple. Just a 2D animated hand-drawing. On the other hand, the visual is so, so fluid and realistic. Every surrounding and environment is so lush like a natural color. You get the breathtaking animation and surrealism in addition to the minimal dialogue. No dialogue existed in this movie. It’s just nature who spoke to us. Feel like the movie takes us into the real island.

“The Red Turtle” is so universal and so emotional in so many ways, yet so deep on a personal level. It’s about life, death, solitude, contemplation, etc., I don’t know, there are so many things to talk about. This is an enjoyable movie both for adults and children. The movie also has a fast pace. You don’t even realize you are watching a theatrical movie, not a short movie. The stunning animation, the bizarre sound design, critical concepts, it’s like a fairy tale at night. Another accomplishment in animation.

4 out of 5 stars.