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Turtle Diary (1985)

Two separate people, a man and a woman, find something very stirring about the sea turtles in their tank at the London Zoo. They meet and form an odd, but sympathetic camaraderie as they ... See full summary »



(novel), (screenplay)


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Cast overview, first billed only:
Mr. Meager, Bookstore Owner
Rom Anderson ...
Girl at Zoo
Garage Attendant with Bucket
Gary Olsen ...
Lorry Driver at Rest Park


Two separate people, a man and a woman, find something very stirring about the sea turtles in their tank at the London Zoo. They meet and form an odd, but sympathetic camaraderie as they plan to steal two of the turtles and free them into the ocean. Written by Kathy Li

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


They share a strange and amusing obsession.


Comedy | Drama | Romance


PG | See all certifications »





Release Date:

14 February 1986 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Diario de tortugas  »


Box Office

Opening Weekend USA:

$40,115, 17 February 1985, Limited Release

Gross USA:

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Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Sound Mix:


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Did You Know?


The place where the sea turtles were kept and lived was the London Zoo. See more »


Neaera Duncan: What do you do, exactly?
Mr. Johnson: Top secret.
See more »


Referenced in Murder of a Cat (2014) See more »

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User Reviews

Screen Acting at its Best in a Gentle, Memorable Fable
19 March 2006 | by See all my reviews

Two lonely people, who desperately need to break out of their own confines, conspire together to free two sea turtles that have been imprisoned in an aquarium for thirty years. Harold Pinter's well-written script for "Turtle Diary" is spare, but Ben Kingsley and Glenda Jackson are such consummate actors that they bring a depth to their parts that goes well beyond words. Screen acting rarely gets better than these two performances. A glance, a half smile, and a shrug convey more than a page of written lines, and Kingsley and Jackson are masters of non-verbal communication. The supporting cast in this quirky film is equally skilled and ably fleshes out the sketchily written roles. Eleanor Bron is particularly memorable as a shadowy woman of few words, who lives in the same boardinghouse as Kingsley. She says little, but suggests much. Bron's character will haunt the viewer long after the film is over. Richard Johnson plays Jackson's neighbor, and he too creates a character far more real than his few lines of dialog would suggest. Nigel Hawthorne, Rosemary Leach, Michael Gambon, and Jeroen Krabbe also add idiosyncratic characterizations to this engaging film.

Set in London, "Turtle Diary" could be classified as a love story, although no romance develops between the leads and the lack of romance or interpersonal involvement constrains many of the protagonists. For the most part, the characters are solitary individuals, who exist alone and uninvolved when the film opens. However, as the story progresses, the fortunate form attachments, while those who do not remain confined by their loneliness. The story is slight and obviously intended to provide parallels between the plight of the turtles and those of the characters. Events move slowly, and character trumps plot. "Turtle Diary" is a glowing film for patient viewers, who will be rewarded for their time with excellent performances, memorable characters, and a gentle captivating story.

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