Mystique of the Sea 

The Red Turtle 

Anime Film With No Dialogue
Director/Scriptwriter: Michael Dudok
Composer: Laurent Perez del Mar
Wild Bunch/Studio Ghibli/Sony Pictures Classic
Rating: PG (suitable for family viewing)
Running Length: 82 minutes
Nominated for an Academy Award in the Best Animated Feature Category


Did you think it would ever happen? A film with no dialogue in which you could sit back, relax and enjoy without thinking you missed dialogue.  This is the fable of the Red Turtle, and the form of animation, “anime,“ is so imaginative and creative that you sometimes forget it is animation and it appears life-like.  For a lone island in the middle of nowhere, little crabs scamper around like Minions, sunsets are spectacular, forests are lush, oceans come alive and life isn't too bad. A man is adrift on the sea and ends up on the island, as the story begins.


There is a storm and a man falls overboard and miraculously ends upon a sandy white beach. As time passes, he explores the island, finds wood (bamboo forest there), drinking water, fruit and fish to eat. He has adventures that are sometimes dangerous, but he manages to survive. It is lonely, though. After trying to build a raft, and having something break it apart from underneath, he gives up. Then, he spots it in a lagoon. It is a giant red turtle, and the cause of the raft problems. The man becomes angry and before you know it, the shell is broken and inside is a beautiful woman with long red hair. There is love, caring, sharing, eventually a male child and the unit is complete. When time passes, and weather turns bad, the child is a teenager, so what to do then?


Fans have been describing “The Red Turtle” as a circle of life film, but that is only one aspect. Here are more views:
1) it is all a dream from someone who didn't wake up from a fall overboard
2) the man has died and is in purgatory with the woman and child as angels
3) the man discovers the Garden of Eden in the island
4) these are the stages of dying, from apprehension to understanding and further  (reference Circle of Life)
5) this is how the world was created with the child the one to spread happiness
6) it is a fanciful version of the “Robinson Caruso” story by Daniel De foe
7) it is a love story and observe the tracks in the sand
8) when all is said and done, it is just a story from an imaginative mind.


As for my interpretation of the film? I favor Number Seven. It is a relaxing film.  Few films have this effect, so when you leave the theater you are smiling at people instead of running for the parking lot. You may pause to reflect whenever you see a turtle, who knows?


The colors in this film are brilliant, especially the greens. The words “lush forest” really comes to life. This color palette is a part of this story from sad (gray) to joy (green,) you can sense the depth of emotion. The soundtrack follows this, also, with sounds of the sea, forest, animals and the wind. Enjoy.



Copyright 2017 Marie Asner