The Red Turtle is a dialogue free animated film that was released by Studio Ghibli. It was a Japanese-French-Belgian production directed by a Dutch animator. It’s about a human who gets shipwrecked on a tropical island which is inhabited by turtles, crabs and birds. From there it’s about the cycle of his life, and especially his life as he survives on the island, which could be in the South Pacific.
He befriends a red turtle, who turns into a woman who becomes his partner. The rest of the story covers the milestones and cycle of their life together.
It’s a remarkable animated film, especially as the graphics and sound have to totally carry the story due to an absence of dialogue. The animation style is quite different from the usual Japanese Studio Ghibli films, although it retains the painterly style. Beautifully made, it’s as simple as a film can be and hearkens back to silent cinema, transcending language, age, and the viewer’s national origin.
It’s a lovely little fable with a straightforward story that plays to a very wide audience. The animations are great. Jean-Christophe Lie, one of the main animators, used to work for Disney but is also well-known for his work on The Triplets of Belleville. He and others worked alongside some Studio Ghibli animators, and it was the first non-Japanese production for the company. Studio Ghibli has been in an odd period of flux, where it is uncertain whether they will continue after the retirement and then now unretirement of its senior figure, Hayao Miyazaki. They have always been involved in a variety of co-productions alongside the official Studio Ghibli films. The Red Turtle could be a return to form, and proof that the studio can work with an international team.
The disc’s sole special feature is a making-of featurette.