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La tortue rouge
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Reviews & Ratings for
The Red Turtle More at IMDbPro »La tortue rouge (original title)

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42 out of 47 people found the following review useful:

A long short. Simple, beautiful, worthy of the Studio Ghibli stamp.

Author: ConcreteStereo from Netherlands
7 July 2016

The movie is visually stunning and conceptually intriguing.

Animator Michael Dudok de Wit has had the improbable chance to make his feature-length debut in partnership with studio Ghibli, and with full artistic autonomy. The result is one hour and a half of purely visual narrative. A bold choice but with no doubt one that works out beautifully. The result is simple, fresh and beautiful, and definitely worthy of the Studio Ghibli stamp.

However, leaving the theater, I had the peculiar impression of having watched the world's longest short. It's an observation that's neither positive nor negative, at least I've been unable to define whether this is an accomplishment or a weakness. That is to say : the film might come off as a bit light, but at the same time, its single-topic approach is elegant and truly enjoyable to watch, and beautifully poetic in its way of finding big stories in the simplest of things.

Anyway, a debut that makes us very curious where Mchaël Dudok de Wit will take us in his future work.

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27 out of 35 people found the following review useful:

As close to pure cinema as they come

Author: Ayal Oren from Israel
15 July 2016

As far as I know this is the first time the illustrious Studio Ghibli has cooperated with a director outside Japan. Still they gave it their trade mark detailed approach to the depiction of nature, and since the whole story is about nature, and about human beings as a part of nature - it counts. What we get is a fable/fairy tale, about a survivor-castaway getting to a deserted island with no human or other land in sight. And the surprising story of his life following that event. I don't do spoilers, and almost anything I could add would be a spoiler. So I'll limit myself to one more remark - the absence of dialogue works for this movie and in a way make this fantastic story more real. Words seem unnecessary as the story develops.

Though it's animation, it's not exactly made for children, but it could work very well for children viewing it. The auditorium in the Jerusalem Film Festival was packed with children and I didn't hear a single complaint.

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24 out of 33 people found the following review useful:

A beautiful film about a man's relationship with his environment

Author: paul_a_salt from United Kingdom
18 October 2016

A man awakens adrift in the middle of the ocean. He is able to swim to a nearby remote island which is only inhabited by crabs, birds and a mysterious red turtle. This is the premise to the Michaël Dudok de Wit's first feature length film, a collaboration between French production studio The Wild Bunch and Japanese animation powerhouse Studio Ghibli. The result of this collaboration is a visually stunning and emotionally complex film.

De Wit explained after the screening that he loved the desert island stories he heard as a child but wanted to tell a different story than Robinson Crusoe. He was less interested in the mechanics of how a man can live on (or escape from) a desert island and more interested in how that man would feel. The practicalities of how the man would survive on this island are dealt with early on and in little detail. The island has fruit bearing trees and a pool of drinkable water at its centre. A very tense sequence early in the film sees the man fall into a crevice and swim the length of a claustrophobic underwater tunnel to escape. These sequences of peril are few. The majority of the film concerns the real interest of the director; what would keep a man on his island? What would he need to be happy there? De Wit explained his process as being very natural. He arrived at the premise and then wrote the story without a plan. He wanted something to keep the man on the island, something natural. He then settled on a giant turtle saying it just felt right. Not too cute, nor too animalistic. The effect of this writing style is that the film has a very dream like quality.

The animation is stunning. The island is rendered in lush colours. The realistic approach to character movements and environments makes the fantastical elements all the more spellbinding.

The director also mentioned symbolism in his discussion, hoping that it was clear. I must admit that if the film is a direct allegory then it's a little elusive. Perhaps it's a story about surrendering the instinct to escape one's circumstances and learning to embrace them. Or perhaps it's about not yearning to return to home but to make one for oneself. The man initially dreams of bridges leaving the island and string quartets appearing on the beach. As the man explores the wonders of the island he stops dreaming, discovering that the island has its own fantasies to offer. The deceptively simple story demands some thought but more significantly insists on being felt.

Other interesting details from the discussion with the director included the sudden contact from Studio Ghibli. Someone from the studio contacted him having seen some of his animated shorts. He was offered the chance to make whatever film he wanted. This, surely, is the impossible dream of all animators. He described the experience of working with the animation giant as incredibly rewarding, with their input and guidance allowing him to make a better film.

It is interesting to see the Ghibli elements within the film. Most noticeably, I think, the studio has influenced the wildlife seen on screen. Aside from the eponymous reptile, the man is joined on his island by a group of crabs. These crabs are drawn realistically but act anthropomorphically, functioning as comic relief. It's difficult not to recall the Soot Sprites from Spirited Away. However despite the whimsy of these crabs, they are still depicted as part of nature. They drag live fish away to be consumed and are themselves eaten by birds. The juxtaposition of the charms of nature with its horrors recalls the woodland scenes from The Tale of Princess Kaguya.

This is a very unique film. It has far less in common with stories like Castaway than its premise may suggest. Instead this is a fantastical exploration of what makes a person content with their surroundings. Fans of Michaël Dudok de Wit will appreciate the flawless transition he has made to feature film and fans of Studio Ghibli will find plenty of the magic and wonder they may be missing since When Marnie Was There.

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17 out of 25 people found the following review useful:

Dramatic and charming

Author: euroGary from United Kingdom
18 October 2016

Seen at the 2016 London Film Festival, 'The Red Turtle' is an animation that opens with a shot of a man. We do not know who he is, or how he came to be where he is: all that matters is he is in danger of drowning, being as he is adrift in storm-toss'd ocean waters. For the viewers, the man's life begins at that moment, for once he washes up on a deserted island it becomes apparent he will not be leaving it any time soon. Not for the want of trying, mind you: he builds more than one raft as he attempts to escape. But each raft is destroyed by a large red turtle. Eventually the infuriated man takes his revenge against the turtle, which is when things get really weird...

If this were live-action, I would want to know the man's origin (or at least his name!) and how the turtle does what it unexpectedly does after the man attacks it. Perhaps I am more easily satisfied when watching animation, though, because those things did not matter here: instead I lost myself in the story, which clips along at a fair old pace, but director/co-writer Michael Dudok de Wit ensures it never seems rushed: dramatic happenings such as a tsunami and the man's attack on the turtle aside, this is a very peaceful film, with the antics of some sand crabs providing comedy relief.

The animation is a pleasing mix of styles: the human and animal figures could have been drawn by Hergé, whereas the backgrounds - assisted, I assume, by CGI - are near photo-realistic. But there are some obvious errors, all to do with the sea: when viewed from above the surface it seems to have the consistency of paint (ie: not transparent). Underwater scenes generally show a background of blank grey, rather than the animators providing a seascape of sand, gardens, fish etc - this seems a wasted opportunity. And whereas in real life wet clothing clings to its wearer, frequently in this film clothing that has just been completely submerged in water continues to blow around the wearer as if it is bone dry!

But those quibbles aside, I enjoyed this and can certainly imagine myself watching it again: next time, hopefully, without the sizeable gentleman sitting across the aisle from me who had apparently purchased all the popcorn in London - his munching sounds really detracted from this dialogue-free film.

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14 out of 22 people found the following review useful:

Nature Speaks; Illuminating and Powerful

Author: raven-64-833785 from Miami
23 October 2016

The way this illuminating and ethereal film captures the senses makes you wish to linger in each frame; approaching rain the only sound, stars and moonlight reflected in the calm sea, the comforting and rhythmic wash of waves at night, the endless shades and patterns of color and sunlight in water and emotions conveyed in just a glance.

A lone man washes up on a remote and uninhabited island shore after a shipwreck. He is resourceful, works his way out of perilous situations and manages to find fresh water, fish and breadfruit to sustain him. He builds a sturdy raft and launches it in the sea, yet a large sea turtle breaks the raft apart. The turtle seems to want him to stay on the island. In a moment of rage, the man attacks the turtle and unwittingly sets in motion something more powerful than he can imagine.

The Red Turtle is wordless, yet not soundless. Nature speaks instead, in all its wonder apart from the noise of civilization. We hear, among other things, the movement of figures in the grass, the preternatural buzz of cicadas in the trees, a storm sweeping over the forest, waves tumbling in rhythm upon the shore, curious crabs turning over objects in their claws and wind rising and falling like emotions or breath.

The tremendous power of the Red Turtle is in its exquisite artistry and the emotions it conveys. The art is surreal and realistic at the same time. Every frame is so detailed, expressive and colorful that I – a nature lover I admit – broke down in awe and wonder. That the filmmakers shared this sentiment for the natural world is clear. The light on island greenery positively glows, there is play between sun and shadows, and clouds move resplendent in the twilight like they are stars in their own show.

Human emotion is conveyed with just as much ability as that of nature. People talk without speaking. They know the feelings of others, by their manner and the look in their eyes, in an instant. Because of the film's amazing artists, the audience doesn't need to hear words to know what is going on. The artwork conveys the contents of hearts. It is a much better way to communicate really. We feel the man's remorse for wanting to harm a turtle that wanted to help him. Someone reaches out their hand and we feel the touch on our cheeks. We move our feet with the dance beneath the sea.

Above all, the Red Turtle clearly renders our deep connection to nature and to each other. It does this so well it brings tears. We witness nature in all its wonder and power. As with Native American art, the film artistry allows the audience to glimpse and understand the lives of animals.

The Red Turtle was made in collaboration with Studio Ghibli. The director maintained after the showing that Studio Ghibli placed enough trust in him that he had space and freedom to operate, yet also could turn to them for advice when needed. The director/studio partnership certainly found the right balance. North American premiere seen at the 2016 Toronto International Film Festival.

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12 out of 21 people found the following review useful:

The true magic of reality

Author: Howard Schumann from Vancouver, B.C.
4 October 2016

Gorgeous colors and graceful poetic images mark The Red Turtle (La Tortue rouge), a wordless 80-minute animated film co-produced by the Japanese Studio Ghibli and Dutch animator Michael Dudok de Wit. Made in France, the dialogue-free film was produced by Takahata Isao and co-written by French director Pascale Ferran whose 2014 film Bird People depicted a loving connection between man and nature. De Wit was recruited by famed Japanese animator Hayao Miyazaki after he saw his 2000 Oscar-winning short Father and Daughter, a charcoal-drawn, also wordless film, about loss.

The Red Turtle begins in a raging storm as a bearded young man defies death and is carried by enormous waves to the shore of a tiny island as pieces of his shattered boat wash up behind him. With his only companions being crabs and caterpillars, the nameless man plans to escape by constructing a raft of bamboo sticks but his raft is broken up during several attempts by a huge turtle of flaming red. Aggressively attempting to prevent this from happening again, the man turns the turtle over, leaving it to die.

When the turtle transforms into a human female companion, the film becomes a beautiful and moving fable that recaptures the mystery and wonder of life. The Red Turtle is a short film but it is filled with adventure as when the couple's son tumbles into the same pool his father had almost drowned in several years earlier. There is also a raging tsunami that threatens to engulf the island, dream sequences including one in which he imagines a string quartet playing classical music at low tide, and allegories about life, all supported by the exquisite score of composer Laurent Perez del Mar (Now or Never).

While I did not always connect emotionally with the animated characters, I was awed by the grace of the film's ballet-like underwater images, the glow of a magical sky, and the water, one minute a raging grey, the next a serene azure blue. Of course the central mystery of the film is open to interpretation. For me, it is an allegory about the power we all have to transform the quality of our life. Rather than being stuffed into a box labeled mythical fantasy or magical realism, the film is about the true magic of reality so often lost to us by our present-day scientific "rationality."

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3 out of 4 people found the following review useful:

Man always needs a purpose.

Author: Reno Rangan from Somewhere in the Cosmos
24 December 2016

Since the Hollywood upgraded to the 3D animation, the rest of the world took over and given some incredible films in the last one and half decades. The Japanese animes are undoubtedly the best, but the European animation, particularly the 2D animation started to boom in the recent times with special mention goes to Tomm Moore. So basically I might miss some Hollywood animations, right now, but I'm very watchful over this kind of films. That's how I watched it, but anyway I would have seen it.

This is the director's first feature animation film, but he was known for his awesome short animations which one of them won him an Oscar. It was jointly produced by three countries, including Japan's Studio Ghibli. It's their first non-Japanese production and a great beginning and timing to expand the production in other continents. Especially after their legend, Hayao Miyazaki retired from the filmmaking.

The film was short like the 80 minute stretch without a single word spoken in its entire narration. There's no even sign language used, everything's actions and reactions. So you would find empty in the film's cast section which is kind of weird. I mean there are characters in the film, but all were imaginations without names and what year it takes place, where with so many questions like that. Basically to say, a film without the cast, but the crew members managed to give the best to the viewers to get it without any struggle.

One thing is for sure, that the film is very enjoyable. It is a fantasy film, so whatever you see, you have to accept it. Because that's how things happen in a theme like this, all fictional. Though, the first thing you have to keep in your mind is not the entire film was an hallucination event. There are some dreamy events and that's fine since the film character is coping with loneliness.

A man who had lost at sea, wakes up in a small island. It's a life supporting land mass with fresh water and fruits, but he also has to put some effort for fishing. His notion is to leave the island as soon as possible to go back to where he had come from, the civilised world. In his every attempt to sail with a raft he had made using bamboos, fails to cross after a certain stretch of the island coast. He later comes to know what stopped him and with an anger reaction he commits a mistake. So now he has to come out of the guilt and to do that he chooses what seems the right.

It was like a simple story without any meaning about everything that's shown in it. So in my entire watch I thought the same and said it was an okay film with great animation. But the ending changed my stance. That twist, I don't think everybody would understand. But one thing I want to make sure if you yet to see it, that it was about the purpose. The man always looks for a reason to do things and even to live or die. That's where the red turtle comes in.

Although my biggest question is, is this film a follow-up or in any way connected to the director's previous short animation 'Father and Daughter'? Because it seems the man who got lost in the sea is from that short film. But it never revealed the reason why he was stopped by whomever from return home. Also, both the conclusions syncs. It's just a my theory, so only the director can explain that.

I'm very sure this film is in the Oscars race. If it fails to make, then its not my prediction was wrong, but the Academy Awards people got it all wrong. I'm also sure it won't win as 3D animation dominated world, particularly 'Zootopia' 'Finding Dory' and 'Moana' are taking the first three frontrunner spots. Except the technical differences, only the grown ups can say this one has a better and meaningful story. It is very similar to 'Ponyo', but a grown-up's version. Anyway, it is a must see film, especially the adults and in particular those who always think animation is for children. If they see it, they might change their mind. Highly recommended!


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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

Visual poetry that hangs in your head for days..

Author: Naren k from Tokyo, Japan
7 January 2017

The style of Red Turtle is different from other Ghibili studios in terms of complexity of plot and style of animations. The story starts with a person who casts away in a storm to a remote island and then develops into a beautiful plot.

a musical symphony with no words spoken in entire film and every frame of animation took my breath away. It's deeply emotional and keeps you in edge. This is defiantly one of the master pieces of anime world. Style of anime is like a painting and the choice dull colors , moon light ,rain, woods and ocean are dreamy and surreal.

I totally recommend it this to watch in big screen.

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2 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

A Masterpiece.

Author: Sotiris Annis
14 January 2017

The movie was a pure masterpiece. Details were plenty for the eager-to- notice viewer, and provided great narrative and hints for the plot. Nothing is unimportant and this lively yet lonely world, and the more attention you pay to the smallest things, the more this movie makes sense. The music score was fantastic and at times it really flooded me with emotions. The plot has you thinking of all the possibilities that could have been true or not, and as such it's a fulfilling experience, one to be discussed for much time after the screening. As long as you have a vivid fantasy, you'll enjoy this movie and really think about it. The only setback is that at times it grew tiring and could use 10 minutes less time. Absolutely recommend! 9/10

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2 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

A masterclass in animation storytelling

Author: Red_Identity from United States
19 December 2016

I'm a big fan of survival films. In particular, J.C. Chandor's All Is Lost is my favorite film of the decade so far and it's with high praise that I say that The Red Turtle reminded me so much of it. The animation is simple, but it's perfect for this type of story. It's an amazingly written film. It understands the power of visual storytelling and it never loses our gaze. The music score is also perfectly integrated, composed and mixed with a real care for the quieter moments and it never overdoes anything (something that many dialogue-less films do). Animation or no animation, you become deeply invested in these characters. I can't recommend this film enough. I highly recommend it.

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