Movie Reviews

Movie Review: The Red Turtle (2017)


Summary: The dialogue-less film follows the major life stages of a castaway on a deserted tropical island populated by turtles, crabs and birds.- From IMDB
Characters. There isn’t really a cast so this is strictly on the characters and I almost don’t really want to go into it because it might ruin the experience. So I’ll try to be careful, there might be minor spoilers ahead.
  • The Man. He is stranded on a deserted island, when he wakes up, he meets some funny crabs, then goes to explore the island. A couple of things happen where I freak out for a moment because if I was in his shoes, I’d probably die lol, but he quickly adapts and starts trying to escape. He builds some rafts, ends up having to make one three times. As the film continues, we see him grow and change and the reasons why are probably how any man in his position would.
  • The Red Turtle. Quite the anomaly, the man’s first raft is destroyed and he nor the viewer knows why until I think the second or third time, we finally see the red turtle and it blatantly destroys his raft. I think there are a couple of theories as to why it does this… but again no spoilers.
  • Two other characters. So, it’s hard to talk about a film where parts may be major spoilers… but I will just say, I love the animation of the hair on one of them and I think they were both great additions to the film… also very intriguing. Makes the viewer wonder just how they got there in the first place, what is the whole story.
No Dialogue. This film has no dialogue outside of the small “HEEEYS!” otherwise, there’s no actual dialogue. At first, that might be a bit jarring, especially as the movie continues into the last bit, but I think it works because it makes the viewer pay attention to everything else. It’s easy to lose focus in a film when a character is talking but when there is nothing to go on but emotion and what’s around the character, it requires a different kind of focus. I think it really works here.  I didn’t need it. What I saw, I was able to create moments from my imagination.
The animation. I think Studio Ghibli always hits their mark with their animation. It is a bit weird here, but I liked it. I thought it was very different compared to their other most notable works. I think the water probably had the most character in the film. At the beginning, the way it moves, like a wild animal was stunning. Later in the film, it moves like that again and it’s so scary. Also, like I mentioned above, I really liked how the hair of a particular character was animated, especially in the water. Also, the way the Red Turtle looked in the water, the color and how clearly it stood out. The same way the man’s white clothes did in a sea of green trees at the beginning of the film. That slow changed over time as he began to adapt to the island.
The emotion. It made me cry lol. There is a lot going on here, but at it’s core it’s very straight forward, it’s the story of a man and by the end, I was in tears. Even if you don’t cry, I think it’s imperative that you pay close attention to the film, don’t get distracted, because even if you don’t cry, there is going to be something felt by the end of the film. It’s engrained in the characters, in the animation and the sounds of the island.
The Story. It talks about a deep connection with nature, in many ways. In how man adapts to it, how nature can be unyielding and unforgiving, but at the same time, it can be loving and helpful.
What happened?? I don’t want to spoil a particular plot point… but I want to know what happened to him, he just left. I guess you can kind of guess but I needed answers.
A little odd. I think it can come off really weird and maybe better off as a short film instead of a full length movie. But I think that depends on the person, I put it her because it was something I noticed. As well as the animation being a bit jarring, same with the no dialogue bit, but it doesn’t count against the film for me.
Overall, I really loved this film. I was quite surprised as I watched it. I really wanted to see it after hearing Chris Stuckmann talk about it and I was in for a treat. I personally haven’t seen a Studio Ghibli film I haven’t liked. I mean, sure, some of them aren’t as great as others, but overall, I think they are all quite fabulous movies and this is no different, no matter how different it is compared to it’s predecessors. I love the animation, especially of the nature elements. I really loved the fact that there was no dialogue, it requires a bit more attention from the viewer, and allows the music and animation to take a front seat. It’s fantastic.
Rating: 4. 70 out of 5 stars.
Have you seen The Red Turtle? Have you even heard of it? If not, go watch it! Let me know what you think in the comments below! I can definitely see why it’s been nominated for an Oscar.
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