Moira and I went along to the Watershed this afternoon to see Michael Dudok de Wit’s “The Red Turtle”. It’s a co-production with Japanese animation giants Studio Ghibli (Isao Takahata is artistic producer)… so it immediately ticked LOTS of boxes as far as I was concerned!
It’s a stunningly beautiful film – with Dudok de Wit
mixing hand- and computer-drawn images throughout – and it’s also completely
wordless! Laurent Perez del Mar’s breath-taking score perfectly complements the
minimalist visuals… making words completely unnecessary!
The film is about the unlikely ‘friendship’ between an
island castaway and an enormous sea turtle. The shipwrecked man, on a deserted
island, struggles to construct a raft, but every attempt to leave is thwarted
by a huge red turtle that seems intent on having him stay.
This is one of
those films that you just have to see for yourself… it’s an enigmatic
Everyone who sees it will no doubt have a different ‘take’ on
the film. I certainly don’t intend to try to explain it (I’m still trying to
come to terms with bits of it myself) but I’ll just say this: the man sets out
to foil the creature’s attempts to prevent his escape but, in doing so, the man
finds himself being instructed in the ways of companionship, respect for the
environment and ultimately being led to understand that nature must take its
But don’t just take my word for it… I’ve just read Mark Kermode’s
five-star review in The Guardian and he ends his piece as follows:
combining analogue and digital animation…, they compose a visual symphony that
seems to comprise a history of cinema itself; from monochrome nights to richly
hued days; from porous green trees to luminous blue seas; orange sunlight to
cues with the natural soundscape, the composer utilises wood and bamboo
percussion, gentle flutes and soaring strings to negotiate the film’s
kaleidoscopic tones. The melodies have a nursery rhyme candour, yet encompass
themes of longing and anguish, despair and delight, love and death.
I could say more,
but this is a film that respects the sound of silence. It is a work of art
which transcends boundaries of language, culture, geography and age. It is
It’s a poignant,
powerful, gentle, charming and rather wonderful film – which I strongly urge
you to see.
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