Director: Michael Dudok de Wit
Showtime April 23rd, 12:15 PM
Runtime: 80 minutes
Athens International Film Festival: Best Film, Special Mention, Director Michael Dudok; Cannes Film Festival: Un Certain Regard; San Francisco Film Critics Circle: Best Animated Feature
Entirely wordless, yet saying so much, The Red Turtle begins as a familiar Robinson Crusoe adventure, about a shipwrecked man who washes up on a remote island populated only by birds, crabs and turtles who already call the isle home.
He’s able to forage for food and fashions rudimentary shelter out of natural materials at hand, a task that risks death from accident, animal attack or the merciless force of wind and waves. He also builds a raft out of the bamboo he painstakingly collects from the island’s abundant forests, in the hope of escaping his paradise prison.
The only thing he can’t create is companionship, and that’s where the title reptile comes in. He encounters the giant beast while attempting to paddle away and at first it seems he’s about to become prey. Something altogether different ensues as the story takes a distinct turn toward the surreal and the heart is lifted.
Informed by legends of both the East and West, the film invites us to contemplate humanity’s connections to the natural world and the realm of the spirit.
The Red Turtle is also a joy to listen to, as well as to watch. Composer Laurent Perez Del Mar contributes a strings-laden score that signals both danger and delight. It’s another integral part of a rapturous film that beckons us to watch and to think, again and again.