Quick Hit: Beautifully animated, this European/Asian collaboration from Studio Ghibli will be enjoyable for most.
Studio Ghibli, who we had the pleasure of covering once before with the excellent Spirited Away. Is one of the gems of the animation world. That’s why when I heard the absolutely bonkers premise behind the newest work from Ghibli, I knew I would eventually get around to watch it.
The Red Turtle (or La Tortue Rouge) does not disappoint in regards to animation style. The movie immediately plunges (no pun intended) you into the story of a man lost at sea. Eventually he finds his way to an island, and we get an animated version of Cast Away. The man struggles to free himself from the island, only to be rejected time and again by a – first unseen – Red Turtle.
After the man recognizes his attempts to leave the island are becoming futile, the Turtle eventually becomes a woman (I couldn’t make this up if I tried). They then reproduce, and Turtle Boy (as the name I lovingly bestowed him as) lives out his life and eventually leaves his hybrid parents. It’s a wild story that has all kinds of meta meanings, but I’m not here to try and pull meaning from it (ok, maybe a little bit).
The animation is beautiful. The majority of the animation is hand drawn and simplistic, with only the occasional computer generated wave making an appearance. The characters are simply drawn and have small expressions, but not much more is needed. The only dialogue is the occasional unintelligible shout, and there is really very little sound outside of the classical score. The film allows you to focus on what matters, which is the story and the feeling created by it. I really enjoyed parts of it, when it wasn’t quite so weird (like the woman and the man rising up into the sky).
I think the part I enjoyed most was how there were very few scenes that didn’t involve something happening, which is impressive considering there is a small amount of people on an island. There’s nary ten minutes when there isn’t huge waves, someone falling into a hole, or a turtle randomly appearing. It’s all flanked by some amusing moments with animated crabs, in a typical Ghibli style.
This film is good but not perfect, as I stated. It gets a bit too much in the metaphysical, and that lost my interest for a while. Overall, the film is a solid animated feature that is beautiful to behold. I’m giving it a “B”.
For more on this film, check out IMDB.
"All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy"