Just a quick impression of an impressive piece of animated cinematic masterpiece …
Surrounded by the immense and furious ocean, a shipwrecked mariner battles all alone for his life with the relentless towering waves. Right on the brink of his demise, the man set adrift by the raging tempest washes ashore on a small and deserted tropical island of sandy beaches, timid animal inhabitants and a slender but graceful swaying bamboo forest. Alone, famished, yet, determined to break free from his Eden-like prison, after foraging for food and fresh water and encouraged by the dense forest, the stranded sailor builds a raft and sets off to the wide sea, however, an indistinguishable adversary prevents him from escaping. Each day, the exhausted man never giving up hope will attempt to make a new, more improved raft, but the sea is vast with wonderful and mysterious creatures and the island’s only red turtle won’t let the weary survivor escape that easily. Is this the heartless enemy?
Tomatometer: Critics 94%, Audiences 80%
Staring at this empty space since five minutes … and not quite sure how to begin with my “review” of this little marvel. It’s a simple little story, but one that would’ve been nearly impossible to tell with real actors in real locations. Or at least it would’ve been far too expensive to procuce for a small first time director from a small European country.
Thank god for Studio Ghibli on the search for new markets and new opportunities, now that their legendary founder Hayao Miyazaki finally retired from filmmaking. I guess the main reason for TRT turning out so nicely, is due to Ghibli’s added magic.
Also it must be mentioned that TRT works without any dialogue! Apart from some grunting sounds and the occasionally shouted “HEYYY!” nobody’s talking in this movie. And it’s not needed. We agreed after the movie was over that any dialogue – or even off-screen narration – would’ve been disturbing factors. This film is self-explanatory … and it never bores during its 80 minutes runtime.
TRT is an allegory on life … we guess. And as such it works. It’s great how much emotions and feels this film was able to communicate and made us feel with the protagonist(s). It really is a tour de force, a fukn masterpiece.
Of course it’s not for everybody. If you watch it with the mindset to see a comedy or action cartoon you’re in for a bad surprise. This is not Porco Rosso or Nausicaä or Princess Mononoke, this is clearly the vision of Michael Dudok deWit. And he did great! In TRT Studio Ghibli clearly took the backseat in realizing Dudok’s vision.
Yeah, I’m still a bit unsure what else to tell you about this wonderful movie, as so often when I see something I like. I always find much to think about and to criticize in lesser movies, but take the really good ones for granted. Eventhough in our times the bad flicks in the vast majority.
And I’m not talking about trashy B- and C-Movies; in the 2010s even big fat super productions, worth multihundred millions production money are getting the Meh treatment. As if they don’t count, as if they are trash, not worthy of a good screenplay and some intelligent filmmaking. Yes, I’m looking at you, Last Jedi. 😦
Sooo, no, I’m not a fan of small, quiet but overly ambitious little films, as I think TRT is one. I must admit that I’m always game for the big huge spectacle, epic space battles and gratuitous explosions all around. But when Hollywood mucks it up so bad, as it does since like the last couple years; and when then some unknown little director from a minicountry – squeezed in between The Netherlands, Germany and France – comes up with an adorable gem like TRT, I just have to cheer him on. Show it to the fuckers, Michael, show them who’s boss!!!
CONCLUSION: The Red Turtle is a small wonder. Feel free to let Michael Dudok de Wit’s astonishing debut film enchant you with its brittle charme.
WATCH IT? On a rainy (or snowy) but calm sunday afternoon, with your better half. No beer needed, cacao and brownies will do just fine. =^.^=
THE CRITICISE SQUAD:
Chris rates it a B.
Mark: “… touches the very essence of what cinema can do.”
A very thoughtful review/explainification by videojoe.
Interview with Michaël Dudok de Wit
The Red Turtle: Behind the magic
The Red Turtle Explained & Analysed SPOILERS (in a very interesting English accent)