Credits: Directed by Michael Dudok de Wit. Written with Pascale Ferran. Music by Laurent Perez del Mar.
The Red Turtle (La Tortue Rogue) is a beautiful hand drawn animation by Dutch-British animator, Michael Dudok de Wit known for illustrating short films, so this feature film (around 80 minutes long) feels very special.
It came to no surprise that i should love such a film with no dialogue as it was co-produced by Wild Bunch company (in France) , amongest others and my favourite movies from Studio Ghibli.
It tells the tale of a man washed ashore on an island. Seeing how desolated the place is, he wastes no time to build a raft using long bamboo sticks, however it is suddenly snapped and he finds himself swimming back to safety.
Desperate to leave the island, he successfully makes another raft using the bamboo sticks, sailing a little further now, whilst feeling uneasy and sure enough something hits underneath it and snaps his raft again.
Determined to get off the island he makes his third raft and looks cautiously undernearth the water. A few ripples and movements make the raft creak as he gets a stick in hand for any danger and hits the raft for warning but it eventually breaks as he stumbles deeper into the ocean. In the water swims a large red turtle staring intentively into his eyes then swims away.
Tired, hungry and cold, he yells in frustration and anger as the night draws in. This is one of my favourite scenes as the orchestral music (which is beautiful and soothing), begins to play as he looks up at the moon. He dreams he is floating away from the island. On another occasion he awakens to see three men playing violin on the beach and screams hey! running towards them in hope, only to find he is hallucinating.
He is a kind man( which is reflected as the story unfolds), who even offers fruit he had to cut down from a tall tree, to some baby crabs. A man who is just struggling to survive on a deserted island.
The red turtle begins to crawl it’s way onto the sand to which he takes his anger upon, hitting it with a bamboo stick and tilting it on it’s back and goes back to making his raft. That night he dteams of the turtle floating into the sky, presuming going up to heaven and wakes in terror.
Feeling guilty as the Sun is blazing down on them, he tries to revive it with some water but it doesn’t do much except crack its shell in half. Is it dead? To his disbelief he realises there is more to this red turtle as something big has changed and his journey on the island continues in a different turn of events.
In its simple form, the message is strongly portrayed. With the sound of the ocean, the wind and the birds, the nature around, seeing is the most believing in this wonderful story.