The Red Turtle (2016) Poster

User Reviews

Review this title
95 Reviews
Sort by:
Filter by Rating:
Quietly Devastating
evanston_dad7 July 2017
"The Red Turtle" is an animated film that left my entire family feeling quietly devastated without even being able to put our fingers on why.

With no dialogue, it traces the trajectory life takes for most people: starting out alone, finding someone to partner with, raising children, watching those children leave, and then saying goodbye yourself to the world. The film explores how things that can at first seem like barriers to happiness and contentment can eventually lead us to the things about life that we cherish most. It's not a film full of big, obvious emotions, but instead works a quiet and subtle spell. My eight year old was extremely attuned to the melancholy sadness of the film and spent a couple of minutes in tears afterwards. It gave us a good opportunity to talk about why the movie made him sad and to make him feel OK about having honest reactions to what are essentially the ups and downs of life.

Nominated for Best Animated Feature at the 2016 Academy Awards.

Grade: A
56 out of 57 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Brilliant piece of art and philosophical masterpiece
shamborovsky9 March 2017
Warning: Spoilers
Before starting watching the movie I strongly recommend to listen or even better to watch Leonard Cohen's video clip "Dance Me to the End of Love". The animated movie as well as Cohen's clip is about life, obstacles, hardness, love, children, death - about the life as is. Sometimes lonely, sometimes happy, sometimes on the edge of death.

The plot is quite simple: the main hero appears on uninhabited island and first tries to survive, then to escape and then just just to live.

It is real philosophical piece of art about which one can write thesis after thesis. A scope of issues reveled for discussions is vast: about the purpose of life, about love, about loneliness, about striving of the youth for changes, desire to live, to die, nature, animals and much much more.

I was extremely touched with the few very nice moments: - First - when the main hero being on the uninhabited island but alive suddenly falls down from the rock inside the deep cave with water from which you can not get out. I physically feel myself uncomfortable from realizing the situation - to survive but appear on the island and immediately after to face danger of being helplessly drowned in the cave - Second - when woman is touching the face of the main hero after years or months of loneliness (heroes do not talk - you can see the time only by means of his beard only). Deeply touching moment - and once again, while sitting in the cinema you almost physically feel the tenderness of this touch. - Third - after the main hero met woman and set a family and they gave a birth to a child and child has grown up and it looked like "life is happy"drastic storm from the sea arrives and almost kills all of them.

And the final and the most beautiful moment, in my opinion: after their son left them and they reached old age (one can guess of it from the gray hairs om his and her) and it is obvious that soon they will die they "dance to the end of love" - again and again deeply touching and moving moment.

Very very beautiful movie - a must see piece of art for those who are fond of thought provoking movies.
32 out of 34 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
A long short. Simple, beautiful, worthy of the Studio Ghibli stamp.
ConcreteStereo7 July 2016
The movie is visually stunning and conceptually intriguing.

Animator Michael Dudok de Wit has had the improbable chance to make his feature-length debut in partnership with studio Ghibli, and with full artistic autonomy. The result is one hour and a half of purely visual narrative. A bold choice but with no doubt one that works out beautifully. The result is simple, fresh and beautiful, and definitely worthy of the Studio Ghibli stamp.

However, leaving the theater, I had the peculiar impression of having watched the world's longest short. It's an observation that's neither positive nor negative, at least I've been unable to define whether this is an accomplishment or a weakness. That is to say : the film might come off as a bit light, but at the same time, its single-topic approach is elegant and truly enjoyable to watch, and beautifully poetic in its way of finding big stories in the simplest of things.

Anyway, a debut that makes us very curious where Mchaël Dudok de Wit will take us in his future work.
87 out of 100 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
A beautiful film about a man's relationship with his environment
paul_a_salt18 October 2016
A man awakens adrift in the middle of the ocean. He is able to swim to a nearby remote island which is only inhabited by crabs, birds and a mysterious red turtle. This is the premise to the Michaël Dudok de Wit's first feature length film, a collaboration between French production studio The Wild Bunch and Japanese animation powerhouse Studio Ghibli. The result of this collaboration is a visually stunning and emotionally complex film.

De Wit explained after the screening that he loved the desert island stories he heard as a child but wanted to tell a different story than Robinson Crusoe. He was less interested in the mechanics of how a man can live on (or escape from) a desert island and more interested in how that man would feel. The practicalities of how the man would survive on this island are dealt with early on and in little detail. The island has fruit bearing trees and a pool of drinkable water at its centre. A very tense sequence early in the film sees the man fall into a crevice and swim the length of a claustrophobic underwater tunnel to escape. These sequences of peril are few. The majority of the film concerns the real interest of the director; what would keep a man on his island? What would he need to be happy there? De Wit explained his process as being very natural. He arrived at the premise and then wrote the story without a plan. He wanted something to keep the man on the island, something natural. He then settled on a giant turtle saying it just felt right. Not too cute, nor too animalistic. The effect of this writing style is that the film has a very dream like quality.

The animation is stunning. The island is rendered in lush colours. The realistic approach to character movements and environments makes the fantastical elements all the more spellbinding.

The director also mentioned symbolism in his discussion, hoping that it was clear. I must admit that if the film is a direct allegory then it's a little elusive. Perhaps it's a story about surrendering the instinct to escape one's circumstances and learning to embrace them. Or perhaps it's about not yearning to return to home but to make one for oneself. The man initially dreams of bridges leaving the island and string quartets appearing on the beach. As the man explores the wonders of the island he stops dreaming, discovering that the island has its own fantasies to offer. The deceptively simple story demands some thought but more significantly insists on being felt.

Other interesting details from the discussion with the director included the sudden contact from Studio Ghibli. Someone from the studio contacted him having seen some of his animated shorts. He was offered the chance to make whatever film he wanted. This, surely, is the impossible dream of all animators. He described the experience of working with the animation giant as incredibly rewarding, with their input and guidance allowing him to make a better film.

It is interesting to see the Ghibli elements within the film. Most noticeably, I think, the studio has influenced the wildlife seen on screen. Aside from the eponymous reptile, the man is joined on his island by a group of crabs. These crabs are drawn realistically but act anthropomorphically, functioning as comic relief. It's difficult not to recall the Soot Sprites from Spirited Away. However despite the whimsy of these crabs, they are still depicted as part of nature. They drag live fish away to be consumed and are themselves eaten by birds. The juxtaposition of the charms of nature with its horrors recalls the woodland scenes from The Tale of Princess Kaguya.

This is a very unique film. It has far less in common with stories like Castaway than its premise may suggest. Instead this is a fantastical exploration of what makes a person content with their surroundings. Fans of Michaël Dudok de Wit will appreciate the flawless transition he has made to feature film and fans of Studio Ghibli will find plenty of the magic and wonder they may be missing since When Marnie Was There.
85 out of 99 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
As close to pure cinema as they come
ayoreinf15 July 2016
As far as I know this is the first time the illustrious Studio Ghibli has cooperated with a director outside Japan. Still they gave it their trade mark detailed approach to the depiction of nature, and since the whole story is about nature, and about human beings as a part of nature - it counts. What we get is a fable/fairy tale, about a survivor-castaway getting to a deserted island with no human or other land in sight. And the surprising story of his life following that event. I don't do spoilers, and almost anything I could add would be a spoiler. So I'll limit myself to one more remark - the absence of dialogue works for this movie and in a way make this fantastic story more real. Words seem unnecessary as the story develops.

Though it's animation, it's not exactly made for children, but it could work very well for children viewing it. The auditorium in the Jerusalem Film Festival was packed with children and I didn't hear a single complaint.
66 out of 76 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
A stunning work of Art
Wilko9819 June 2017
I am a big fan of animation, from Anime to Disney, DreamWorks, even French animation; but very few times I have seen an outstanding, gorgeous work of art like "THE RED TURTLE"

To begin with, the film has a beautiful 2D animation, which is perfect to show the amplitude of the ocean, and the comparison between the human bodies and those created by nature. The sea, the island, the animals, everything in this movie is animated in an incredible way which makes you feel trapped by this world that looks like a painting in constant motion. Unlike other films, in THE RED TURTLE the approach is rarely only in its characters, but in the environment and how the protagonists unfold in a world as big and unknown as the ocean and the island.

Many movies, specially animated ones, don't take too many risks, and nowadays with the computer animation, I feel like the style that each artist could give to their movies, is slowly disappearing, but this movie proved me wrong. Besides, this movie does nothing else than adding limitations: no dialogue; no facial expressions; not even detailed or "interesting" environments. But all this factors are not really necessary in this 80 minutes long movie, which focuses on the journey that the main character faces while exploring all the stages of life.

The most incredible thing about this movie is that it is completely mute; therefore it only uses the music and animation to tell the story. It is very easy to explain what happens, but cinema is an audiovisual medium, and this film shows the true scope of the animation, and how it can combine the music, the images and the corporal movements of the characters to transmit the messages and emotions. Without the protagonists saying a word, one can feel the desperation, frustration, doubt, intrigue, happiness and madness that they experience.

The story in this movie is very simple, but this is not necessarily a bad thing, because its objective is to use all the elements I mentioned before and use the simple storytelling and characters in their advantage so that they can make the audience experience a different emotion and messages. The main focus of THE RED TURTLE is on the meaning of life, acting like a mirror to our own, therefore, it is the audience the one that creates the complex story by relating the multiple variations and allegories to their own experiences, and this is what will make the story vary from person to person.

Apart from the obvious moral of "man vs. nature" this film exploits other messages, such as "the beauty in the unexpected" and "the circle of life", explained, surprisingly, better than in THE LION KING, with the turtle representing the life of a person.

Even the secondary characters, who serve as comic relief like the crabs, are very entertaining and fun without the need to go to the absurd, making the audience laugh with simple movements and few scenes, turning each appearance in camera into a luxury for the viewer.

In my opinion, due to a beautiful combination of music, animation, plot and message, THE RED TURTLE is the best animated film of 2016.

In conclusion, if you are going to watch this movie, don't try to understand it, because it doesn't have a "logical" story, since it uses a different storytelling technique making you experience different feelings and situations, while exploring the true meaning of life and death. So just seat down and enjoy the ride.
25 out of 28 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Man always needs a purpose.
Reno-Rangan24 December 2016
Since the Hollywood upgraded to the 3D animation, the rest of the world took over and given some incredible films in the last one and half decades. The Japanese animes are undoubtedly the best, but the European animation, particularly the 2D animation started to boom in the recent times with special mention goes to Tomm Moore. So basically I might miss some Hollywood animations, right now, but I'm very watchful over this kind of films. That's how I watched it, but anyway I would have seen it.

This is the director's first feature animation film, but he was known for his awesome short animations which one of them won him an Oscar. It was jointly produced by three countries, including Japan's Studio Ghibli. It's their first non-Japanese production and a great beginning and timing to expand the production in other continents. Especially after their legend, Hayao Miyazaki retired from the filmmaking.

The film was short like the 80 minute stretch without a single word spoken in its entire narration. There's no even sign language used, everything's actions and reactions. So you would find empty in the film's cast section which is kind of weird. I mean there are characters in the film, but all were imaginations without names and what year it takes place, where with so many questions like that. Basically to say, a film without the cast, but the crew members managed to give the best to the viewers to get it without any struggle.

One thing is for sure, that the film is very enjoyable. It is a fantasy film, so whatever you see, you have to accept it. Because that's how things happen in a theme like this, all fictional. Though, the first thing you have to keep in your mind is not the entire film was an hallucination event. There are some dreamy events and that's fine since the film character is coping with loneliness.

A man who had lost at sea, wakes up in a small island. It's a life supporting land mass with fresh water and fruits, but he also has to put some effort for fishing. His notion is to leave the island as soon as possible to go back to where he had come from, the civilised world. In his every attempt to sail with a raft he had made using bamboos, fails to cross after a certain stretch of the island coast. He later comes to know what stopped him and with an anger reaction he commits a mistake. So now he has to come out of the guilt and to do that he chooses what seems the right.

It was like a simple story without any meaning about everything that's shown in it. So in my entire watch I thought the same and said it was an okay film with great animation. But the ending changed my stance. That twist, I don't think everybody would understand. But one thing I want to make sure if you yet to see it, that it was about the purpose. The man always looks for a reason to do things and even to live or die. That's where the red turtle comes in.

Although my biggest question is, is this film a follow-up or in any way connected to the director's previous short animation 'Father and Daughter'? Because it seems the man who got lost in the sea is from that short film. But it never revealed the reason why he was stopped by whomever from return home. Also, both the conclusions syncs. It's just a my theory, so only the director can explain that.

I'm very sure this film is in the Oscars race. If it fails to make, then its not my prediction was wrong, but the Academy Awards people got it all wrong. I'm also sure it won't win as 3D animation dominated world, particularly 'Zootopia' 'Finding Dory' and 'Moana' are taking the first three frontrunner spots. Except the technical differences, only the grown ups can say this one has a better and meaningful story. It is very similar to 'Ponyo', but a grown-up's version. Anyway, it is a must see film, especially the adults and in particular those who always think animation is for children. If they see it, they might change their mind. Highly recommended!

26 out of 31 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
A Masterpiece.
sotirakas14 January 2017
The movie was a pure masterpiece. Details were plenty for the eager-to- notice viewer, and provided great narrative and hints for the plot. Nothing is unimportant and this lively yet lonely world, and the more attention you pay to the smallest things, the more this movie makes sense. The music score was fantastic and at times it really flooded me with emotions. The plot has you thinking of all the possibilities that could have been true or not, and as such it's a fulfilling experience, one to be discussed for much time after the screening. As long as you have a vivid fantasy, you'll enjoy this movie and really think about it. The only setback is that at times it grew tiring and could use 10 minutes less time. Absolutely recommend! 9/10
19 out of 23 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Nature Speaks; Illuminating and Powerful
Raven-196923 October 2016
The way this illuminating and ethereal film captures the senses makes you wish to linger in each frame; approaching rain the only sound, stars and moonlight reflected in the calm sea, the comforting and rhythmic wash of waves at night, the endless shades and patterns of color and sunlight in water and emotions conveyed in just a glance.

A lone man washes up on a remote and uninhabited island shore after a shipwreck. He is resourceful, works his way out of perilous situations and manages to find fresh water, fish and breadfruit to sustain him. He builds a sturdy raft and launches it in the sea, yet a large sea turtle breaks the raft apart. The turtle seems to want him to stay on the island. In a moment of rage, the man attacks the turtle and unwittingly sets in motion something more powerful than he can imagine.

The Red Turtle is wordless, yet not soundless. Nature speaks instead, in all its wonder apart from the noise of civilization. We hear, among other things, the movement of figures in the grass, the preternatural buzz of cicadas in the trees, a storm sweeping over the forest, waves tumbling in rhythm upon the shore, curious crabs turning over objects in their claws and wind rising and falling like emotions or breath.

The tremendous power of the Red Turtle is in its exquisite artistry and the emotions it conveys. The art is surreal and realistic at the same time. Every frame is so detailed, expressive and colorful that I – a nature lover I admit – broke down in awe and wonder. That the filmmakers shared this sentiment for the natural world is clear. The light on island greenery positively glows, there is play between sun and shadows, and clouds move resplendent in the twilight like they are stars in their own show.

Human emotion is conveyed with just as much ability as that of nature. People talk without speaking. They know the feelings of others, by their manner and the look in their eyes, in an instant. Because of the film's amazing artists, the audience doesn't need to hear words to know what is going on. The artwork conveys the contents of hearts. It is a much better way to communicate really. We feel the man's remorse for wanting to harm a turtle that wanted to help him. Someone reaches out their hand and we feel the touch on our cheeks. We move our feet with the dance beneath the sea.

Above all, the Red Turtle clearly renders our deep connection to nature and to each other. It does this so well it brings tears. We witness nature in all its wonder and power. As with Native American art, the film artistry allows the audience to glimpse and understand the lives of animals.

The Red Turtle was made in collaboration with Studio Ghibli. The director maintained after the showing that Studio Ghibli placed enough trust in him that he had space and freedom to operate, yet also could turn to them for advice when needed. The director/studio partnership certainly found the right balance. North American premiere seen at the 2016 Toronto International Film Festival.
36 out of 49 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
A masterclass in animation storytelling
Red_Identity19 December 2016
I'm a big fan of survival films. In particular, J.C. Chandor's All Is Lost is my favorite film of the decade so far and it's with high praise that I say that The Red Turtle reminded me so much of it. The animation is simple, but it's perfect for this type of story. It's an amazingly written film. It understands the power of visual storytelling and it never loses our gaze. The music score is also perfectly integrated, composed and mixed with a real care for the quieter moments and it never overdoes anything (something that many dialogue-less films do). Animation or no animation, you become deeply invested in these characters. I can't recommend this film enough. I highly recommend it.
19 out of 25 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
It deserves all the praise the academy gives it.
jdesando14 February 2017
"No man is an island entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main . . . ." John Donne

Think you need all those material goods? Try being a castaway as in Dutchman Michael Dudok de Wit's animation,The Red Turtle. Like Tom Hanks in Cast Away, the nameless protagonist has little to work with, this time bamboo forest rather than a volley ball. And no dialogue, not even talking to himself.

As is clear from the figurative content, everyman may be an island yet needs happiness from the simplest possessions such as his ingenuity for survival and Nature. The unrealistic answer, despite the real challenges he has faced, is a companion given of the red turtle he upends. A little magic realism never hurts when you're alone.

The outline of the story has been told many times from Robinson Crusoe to Mosquito Coast with the newer Swiss Army Man and all marooned heroes in between. Yet this House of Ghibli animation, with the blessing of legendary animator Hayao Miyazaki, minimizes the details into simple survival, for which a branch or two and friendly Nature such as clowning crabs and tricky turtles make a difference, if you can be beloved by them.

The magical introduction of a mate into the equation certifies that community and love are essential for survival. Just let Mother Nature do her work.

She does, most often to the benefit of the survivors, but an occasional out of control set piece is here to say only so much of this sweetness can be tolerated. In one piece, nature takes a considerable toll on the island and its few inhabitants. Like Adam and Eve, the hero and his magical mate suffer under Nature's seemingly capricious temper.

Although the allegorical implications of harmony with nature are obvious in the film's minimal activities, it's the simplicity of the line and color design and the lack of dialogue that broadcast the need to strip us of our material load: simplify, simplify. Although we can't avoid the catastrophes Nature or human nature will bring to us, we will be happiest to be at one with Nature and ourselves.

The Red Turtle deserves its Oscar nomination and the experience of those with whom we share its beauty, young and old.
7 out of 8 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Dramatic and charming
euroGary18 October 2016
Seen at the 2016 London Film Festival, 'The Red Turtle' is an animation that opens with a shot of a man. We do not know who he is, or how he came to be where he is: all that matters is he is in danger of drowning, being as he is adrift in storm-toss'd ocean waters. For the viewers, the man's life begins at that moment, for once he washes up on a deserted island it becomes apparent he will not be leaving it any time soon. Not for the want of trying, mind you: he builds more than one raft as he attempts to escape. But each raft is destroyed by a large red turtle. Eventually the infuriated man takes his revenge against the turtle, which is when things get really weird...

If this were live-action, I would want to know the man's origin (or at least his name!) and how the turtle does what it unexpectedly does after the man attacks it. Perhaps I am more easily satisfied when watching animation, though, because those things did not matter here: instead I lost myself in the story, which clips along at a fair old pace, but director/co-writer Michael Dudok de Wit ensures it never seems rushed: dramatic happenings such as a tsunami and the man's attack on the turtle aside, this is a very peaceful film, with the antics of some sand crabs providing comedy relief.

The animation is a pleasing mix of styles: the human and animal figures could have been drawn by Hergé, whereas the backgrounds - assisted, I assume, by CGI - are near photo-realistic. But there are some obvious errors, all to do with the sea: when viewed from above the surface it seems to have the consistency of paint (ie: not transparent). Underwater scenes generally show a background of blank grey, rather than the animators providing a seascape of sand, gardens, fish etc - this seems a wasted opportunity. And whereas in real life wet clothing clings to its wearer, frequently in this film clothing that has just been completely submerged in water continues to blow around the wearer as if it is bone dry!

But those quibbles aside, I enjoyed this and can certainly imagine myself watching it again: next time, hopefully, without the sizeable gentleman sitting across the aisle from me who had apparently purchased all the popcorn in London - his munching sounds really detracted from this dialogue-free film.
28 out of 45 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
A Beautiful Lack of Substance
billy-h-668-7532325 March 2017
'La Tortue Rouge' aka 'The Red Turtle' is a rare film to find in this day and age of animated films. I say this not just because of its limited worldwide screenings, or due to it being a post Hayao Miyazaki Studio Ghibli film but because this is a feature length dialogue-less film.

Instead of relying on dialogue, 'The Red Turtle' uses the talented animators of Studio Ghibli to visually storytell this film. This is what keeps 'The Red Turtle' a float.


  • Gorgeous stunning hand crafted animation

  • Great visual storytelling

  • Fun side characters (crabs)

  • Thought Provoking


  • Lacklustre plot

  • Long runtime

  • Forgettable film

In summary although gorgeously animated, what lets 'The Red Turtle' down is its story. Disappointing to say but at the end of the day no matter what film, STORY IS ALWAYS KEY. I personally believe this major issue would not exist if the runtime was cut to 30-40 minutes instead of the 80 minute runtime. That being said it is still an okay film for sure.

I give 'The Red Turtle' a 6/10 (slightly above average). I only recommend watching this film if you love to watch visually stunning animated films or just want to watch Studio Ghibli's latest art.
28 out of 46 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
cajadomatic16 May 2017
This film is pure poetry beautifully told with sensitivity and emotion. The main character offers us the chance to look into ourselves and imagine how we would react to fate, life and its meanings. The environment is artistically worked by very fine illustrators who draw our attention to the subtle lights and the penetrating colors of nature.
3 out of 3 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
The true magic of reality
howard.schumann4 October 2016
Gorgeous colors and graceful poetic images mark The Red Turtle (La Tortue rouge), a wordless 80-minute animated film co-produced by the Japanese Studio Ghibli and Dutch animator Michael Dudok de Wit. Made in France, the dialogue-free film was produced by Takahata Isao and co-written by French director Pascale Ferran whose 2014 film Bird People depicted a loving connection between man and nature. De Wit was recruited by famed Japanese animator Hayao Miyazaki after he saw his 2000 Oscar-winning short Father and Daughter, a charcoal-drawn, also wordless film, about loss.

The Red Turtle begins in a raging storm as a bearded young man defies death and is carried by enormous waves to the shore of a tiny island as pieces of his shattered boat wash up behind him. With his only companions being crabs and caterpillars, the nameless man plans to escape by constructing a raft of bamboo sticks but his raft is broken up during several attempts by a huge turtle of flaming red. Aggressively attempting to prevent this from happening again, the man turns the turtle over, leaving it to die.

When the turtle transforms into a human female companion, the film becomes a beautiful and moving fable that recaptures the mystery and wonder of life. The Red Turtle is a short film but it is filled with adventure as when the couple's son tumbles into the same pool his father had almost drowned in several years earlier. There is also a raging tsunami that threatens to engulf the island, dream sequences including one in which he imagines a string quartet playing classical music at low tide, and allegories about life, all supported by the exquisite score of composer Laurent Perez del Mar (Now or Never).

While I did not always connect emotionally with the animated characters, I was awed by the grace of the film's ballet-like underwater images, the glow of a magical sky, and the water, one minute a raging grey, the next a serene azure blue. Of course the central mystery of the film is open to interpretation. For me, it is an allegory about the power we all have to transform the quality of our life. Rather than being stuffed into a box labeled mythical fantasy or magical realism, the film is about the true magic of reality so often lost to us by our present-day scientific "rationality."
19 out of 32 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
The Best Animated Film I've Ever See
JeanPaulSatre5147 July 2017
Warning: Spoilers
First of all, the animation in this film is beautiful. Studio Ghibli always creates stories that move you and this movie is no exception. The Red Turtle is the beautiful story of man's struggle with nature and the harmony they create when they work together. The way the turtle symbolizes nature and eventually becomes man's great love is something I've never seen in any other movie. The movie, despite its lack of dialogue, kept me intrigued through its duration. I fell in love with the story of the characters and how it was portrayed. The movie moved me drone when he was so angry he killed the turtle, until the mother and father had to watch their son leave for his own journey. This is a must watch film!
4 out of 5 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Somebody needs to recheck the Animated Feature Oscar Envelope . . .
oscaralbert2 March 2017
Warning: Spoilers
. . . to see if the Real Winner was actually THE RED TURTLE. Keep in mind that when a movie which sets a record for Oscar nominations because EVERYONE loves it is pitted against the first flick with Gay Black Guys which no one cares to see, MOONLIGHT shines brighter than the sun. In a similar vein, alleged "Best Animated Feature" ZOOTOPIA raked in tons of cash with its witty sight gags, snappy jokes in the dialog, imaginatively-drawn Cityscapes, plot twists, deft voice acting characterizations, animal kingdom insights, and ability to present the sort of nine-ring circus necessary to capture a young child's attention for 90 minutes, which is the main purpose of cartoons, of course. On the other hand, THE RED TURTLE cannot find time to squeeze even ONE comprehensible word into its own 81 minutes. There are no Real Life objects such as cars, houses, toys, or trucks--unless you count one empty bottle. This film is either a rip-off of William Golding's PINCHER MARTIN story (that is, a man lands on an island and quickly dies, even though it seems to HIM that life goes on: plagiarized itself from Ambrose Bierce's short story "An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge"), OR it's The Dream of a Turtle. Either way, almost nothing makes sense, and if you've been unlucky enough to drag kids in with you, you'll be answering fill-in-the-blank questions till they fall asleep. How could THE RED TURTLE, considering MOONLIGHT's "triumph," NOT be the ACTUAL Oscar winner, with so much going for it?!
4 out of 5 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Pretentious, overly metaphorical and filled with clichés
stroggos28 May 2017
I'm a fan of art-house and independent movies, and I generally look at what the critics say to make decisions about what I should watch. But once in a while there is a movie where my impression is so massively different from the 'received view' that I am baffled about what goes on in the minds of critics. RED TURTLE is just such a movie.

The story is seemingly simple: Shipwrecked guy stuck on on island wants to escape, builds a series of rafts, but gets held back by a gigantic red sea turtle. Eventually, the two develop a complex (and convoluted) relationship which is, to be honest, quite difficult to explain.

Let's start with the good things first. The imagery is truly beautiful. Lots of landscape shots of oceans, sunsets and the island. While the music, emphasizing string and piano tunes, is a bit generic, the minimalistic style is compelling and unique. The animation is so well done that the first appearance of the red turtle is a proper WOW moment. There are also some genuinely cute side characters, such as the hilarious little crabs that keep running up and down the beach. The pacing is generally done well, and the atmosphere of serenity that pervades the movie is persistent.

While I was impressed by the style of the animation and the mood, it was the seemingly fantastic (or metaphorical?) elements of the movie that just threw me off. I was constantly struggling whether the happenings are to be interpreted figuratively or literally. This is a very subjective judgment, but I personally could just not cope with that ambiguity. And I couldn't cope with the semi-spiritual elements of THE RED TURTLE. It's not that spirituality doesn't have it's place in cinema—but spirituality, metaphors, and all that... they need to serve a purpose! Whereas movies such as KUBO AND THE TWO STRINGS fail by hitting you with a blatantly obvious message over the head, this one goes the other end and shrouds everything in vague mysticism. But then, I left the theatre wondering what I should learn from this movie? What did they want to tell me? A dash of ambiguity is good because it keeps you thinking—but ambiguity is definitely best served in small portions. This one was hard to digest.

If there was a message, then I felt that the message too much emphasized traditional family values and actually was quite conservative in its depiction of gender relations. But here again different interpretations are possible because the movie never wants to commit to anything in particular.

Besides the pretentious mysticism, there are some obvious cliché moments. Romance is depicted with bright light and bodies floating into the sky—come on! And there's dream sequence after dream sequence—never a good way to progress a story!

Finally, I was wondering what the intended target audience was. Maybe THE RED TURTLE might appeal to some kids, but they will surely find a lot of the metaphorical content difficult to understand. And they may be put off by the slow pacing. For adults, the (suggested) messages may come off as trite and the fantastic elements as distracting. THE RED TURTLE tries very hard to be a meditation about love, nature, and all that. The 'everything is connected' and 'respect nature' themes are surely valuable if executed right.... but if these themes are left to mere allusions they become pointless. Mere mysticism without a resolution is not enough to fill nearly 90 minutes of playtime. A movie needs a clear goal and a clear progression of ideas— THE RED TURTLE has neither.
23 out of 47 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
The mystery of life; or hopefully a cartoon that is not going to be another overlooked piece of fine art.
becb-410948 July 2016
In today's renewed era of an exploitation boom, it is quite a comforting surprise to give out monetary support for gems like this one. I did not give this title 10 stars because it is perfect. This animation does not have such an ambition. I gave it the highest possible score because it dares to be traditional and refreshing at the same time. It has the courage to aim for accomplishment instead of profit.

"La Tortue Rouge" is a sincere emotional ride, with little to show, yet a lot to tell. When I write 'little to show' I by no means do that to degrade the audio-visual presentation of this cartoon. The final result of the major cross-studio collaboration behind this movie is one of the most impressive and immersive rides in animation history. The thing is that the seemingly simplistic narrative unfolds so much food for thought and provides such vast possibilities for explanations, that the experience will stay and even evolve within the viewer for good.

When I left the theater, I felt a bit underwhelmed to hear people coming from another hall attempting to rationalize the blockbuster of the period. I can only hope that people will start watching more movies and (adult) cartoons like "The Red Turtle". Movies that make one actually think critically, philosophically and emotionally. Movies that can entertain despite not yielding to mainstream practice of filling our senses with fast-cut, orange/blue hued bad acting amid impossible explosions. Movies that teach us to be good folk.

Until then, people will fill up the theaters for the likes of Incoherence Day: Regurgitation, Star Scars Episode VII: The Forced Weakness, Borecraft, and all the permanent brain and soul damage inducing comic franchises. Only a small yet steadily growing group of people, with whatever reason to share the almost empty halls will seek beyond mindless entertainment by breathing in refreshing sparks of creativity that are fruits of actual effort and mastery.
28 out of 59 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Tears at the end
RomanceNovelist26 November 2017
Warning: Spoilers
Beautiful in its simplicity. No singing animals, explosions, dialogue, just a man, an island, and a turtle to start with.

The movie is about isolation, humanity's need for companionship, man's relationship with nature as well the volatility and unpredictability of nature even in its stunning beauty.

Everything about the island, the colors, and the animals is visual feast along with the characters' physical movements, are both realistic as well as hypnotic.

I cried like a baby the last ten minutes of the movie all the way until the credits rolled, having understood loss.


I wondered throughout the movie if the turtle was real all along, or if it had it died in the beginning and it was the man's imagination that carried him through years of isolation. The movie doesn't give any answers, and we are left to believe the fantasy, all the more with a quiet feeling of loss in the end.
2 out of 2 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Anguished cry
sharky_553 September 2017
Warning: Spoilers
The Red Turtle washes over you like a cool breeze; pleasant, although the rave reviews of a life-changing experience may be a little overstated. The film is a co-production between Dutch animator Michaël Dudok de Wit and the brains-trust of Studio Ghibli, as the crimson Totoro in lieu of the usual blue in the opening credits tells us. But you could learn that simply from watching the characters move and the sea shimmer in the opening sequence anyway; gone are the thick, clean anime-inspired lines of Ghibli's standard, the wide eyes and the fat limbs. And in their place, two black dots for eyes, a wiry frame drawn from thin lines, and an island setting that seems to be perpetually overcast. This is no island paradise - the backgrounds of sky, sea and rock are made of great swathes of watercolour washes, the dullness of blue and grey almost overbearing. No wonder that our protagonist is immediately searching for an escape. There are certain stretches of beauty amongst this: morning sun peeking through the gaps of a bamboo forest, and compositions of stark simplicity of a lone figure standing on the endless beach. Yet when night falls the film turns monochrome, and the harsh reality of waking up robs him of fleeting moments of serenity in his dreams.

So it has a confident vision of its tone, and even the cutesy hijinks of a cast of cartoon crabs doesn't deter it. Aside from a few anguished shouts it is all but a silent film, leaving the sound design and swirling score to do most of the emotional heavy lifting. This all feeds into the moment that the red turtle washes onto the shore helpless, and in a fit that shook me, he turns it onto its back, and stomps down angrily. It is at this point that a comparison to Kim Ki-duk's masterpiece Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter... and Spring is unavoidable. The vicious act is likened to that of a little monk's torment of three small animals, puncturing the quiet calm with sudden violence. They both draw our attention to the egocentrism of man, and make elliptical leaps through life in their editing.

But the broadness of this tale leads it to eventually stumble. Its silence allows the viewer to fill the gaps with whatever thematic metaphor that is most applicable, while the actual narrative remains thin. Halfway through, the film skips ahead in leaps and bounds until it lands into another typical fable about a creature living amongst men, able to feign being human but hearing their calling elsewhere. A tsunami strikes the island suddenly, leaving devastation in its wake; this might be the slot where Ghibli's usual caution on the power and unpredictability of nature could be inserted, but it merely replaces dullness with a greyer dullness, and they stagger on quietly. Later, the child merges with another giant wave, overlooking his parents with a sense of detachment, and the message is muddled further. There are two stories and not enough time to explore them.

I've seen the latter done better anyway, in Ghibli's own Princess Kaguya and the excellent Irish Song of the Sea. Consider a sequence from that film where Saoirse, the mixed offspring of a human father and a fabled selkie first dives back into the sea where she truly belongs. The watercolour animation swirls around her as if it had just been painted with wet brush, the sea springs to life in response to her touch. The moment is magical. Does The Red Turtle take any time out of its broad allegory to woo us like this? To sell us the fractured identities of these characters, and explore the potential of its medium? Let's put it this way: there's more charm in one of Dudok de Wit's eight minute shorts than there is in the feature length of The Red Turtle.
2 out of 2 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
The Speechless leaves you speechless
scottshak_11131 January 2017
Warning: Spoilers
Whoever thought the mute can't speak? The Red Turtle movie might be a film where no one talks but not for a second do you feel like you are watching a dead screen. Because in the background goes a beautiful score that aggrandizes an already fantastic tale of a shipwrecked man who meets a Red Turtle whilst trying to escape an island. The story is reflective of our lives, and acts as a parable for us to figure out the analogy.

One look at the animation and you feel reality taking an alluring form. It's stunningly done, and brilliantly brushed. Every scene looks like a painting worth keeping. The turmoil in the head of its protagonists looks real, and so does all of his choices. There is humility in him, struggle, love and a fighting attitude that turns The Red Turtle movie into a learning experience.

Plot of the Red Turtle Movie (Spoilers)

If you look at the plot of The Red Turtle movie it looks like a lore, a fairy tale that we grew up reading about. To be honest it doesn't call for an explanation only your interpretation of it, of how you choose to relate to it, take out the gist and enjoy its countless similarities to life.

It holds true for every fairy tale out there. There are no dragons, monsters and fairies in real life. Just the good and the bad things. Situations that topple your lives over with their icky monstrosity.

The Red Turtle movie is a profound journey of a man's life where he gets stuck in a flood, then in an island, lost and alone. In his stay of entrapment, he looks for things he could use to feed himself and survive. Also he wishes to go back where he came from.

He builds a raft to set out for the sea, but fails to go the distance owing to a mysterious blow that breaks his raft. He tries again, and fails. Then again, and fails, only this time he finds the reason gawking at him with mute eyes. A Red Turtle, the likes of he has never witnessed before, is the one who is the destroyer of his dreams. The Turtle once again topples him over, before swimming away.

On returning to the island furious this time, spewing fits of anger, the man finds the same red turtle making its way to the beach. Taken over by fierce madness, he bludgeons the turtle hard and topples him over, and jumps over its chest. That image of beauty and elegance goes silent. He realizes that it's dead. Soon he is overwhelmed by guilt.

The Beautiful Woman

One day however the shell of the turtle breaks, and comes out this beguiling woman that changes his will to go back. Smitten by her, he decides to stay on that island. They have a beautiful child and it almost seems like a happily ever after. The child grows up into a young man who learns to stand on his feet. He learns the way of the ocean, befriending turtles and knowing whatever his little world has to offer. But he is curious for more.

A tsunami hits them destroying their island in the process. Amidst chaos he finds his parents again. After a few more days of torpor, the child's parents could read his willingness to see more of it. Thus, he bids farewell to his parents and sets out for sea. The old parents then lead the rest of their lives in that island loving each other even more until the day they pass. The woman turns back into the Red Turtle before disappearing into the sea.

Interpretation of The Red Turtle Movie

I believe there could be as many interpretations to the movie as many thoughts exist in the universe. Mine tries to look at it this way: A man stuck in a storm is akin a cardinal adversity that life flings at you. You are alone, trying to face it with all you have got, but it drifts you away nevertheless.

When the man finds himself on an island, it is like a situation we are not comfortable with, that we didn't ask for, but got anyway. Maybe a state of mind or a job that we are averse to, but it somehow gets us by. We always have that inbred wish to go back to a past that we came from. That could be made out with his obstinate wish to return to the sea with a raft with hopes to make it to his land. He fails incessantly at it, but he never stops trying only to realize someone or something toying with his life.

Our first reaction to anything that stops us from doing what we wish for is anger and frustration that hits the poor creature bluntly without realizing the consequence of the action. It is instantly reflective of how we choose to ignore people who are trying to help us out by stopping us from heading into the wrong direction. The island was supposed to be his destiny. But he was too recalcitrant to notice.

Reason to Live

As a result the poor thing dies. Then there is regret. We tend to burn in a hell of our own doing, our own thoughtless action only when it's too late. To his surprise, enters a girl in his life emanating from a theatrics of a red turtle. The purity of his profound emotions rewards him with a reason to make life less painful.
2 out of 2 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Short films don't pay the bills
jadavix23 January 2017
Warning: Spoilers
"The Red Turtle" is a beautiful animated movie. It tells the story of a shipwrecked sailor whose attempts to leave the island he is bound to are foiled by a titular red turtle. Soon he is joined by a woman and has a family, but he remains stuck on the island.

The movie is told without dialogue, and was a collaboration between Studio Ghibli and European studios. The animation style is like a mix between Eastern and Western styles: the detail of anime with the realistic movement of rotoscoping. The lack of dialogue also gives the movie a universal feel.

The only problem is that the movie, which is so absorbing for most of its run-time, starts to drag a little bit toward the end. It pulls together for a fine conclusion, but at only an hour and twenty minutes as is, I couldn't help but think it may have been better as an hour-long short movie. It almost certainly would have won the Oscar for best animated short, but I guess, Oscar or no, short films don't pay the bills.
2 out of 2 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Too long, too slow and too lacking
room10227 January 2017
Warning: Spoilers
(Major spoilers are indicated below, the rest is spoiler-free)

An animation about a castaway on a deserted island. It got some good reviews and is nominated for an Oscar, so I expected a lot more from it.

The animation is too minimalist and too static. Since there is no dialog at all, sound editing and music are essential. Unfortunately, they are both extremely lacking. Many scenes have no sound at all (or it's so minor that you can't even hear it) and there isn't enough music.

The scenes are way too long and repetitive and the pacing is very slow, but not in a good way. Zemeckis' CASTAWAY was slow too, but didn't have any boring scenes like in this movie. Zemeckis' movie not only had Tom Hanks talking to himself, but was even smart enough to add the volleyball which allowed Hanks to convey his thoughts and feelings. I'm not saying that a movie needs to be dumbed down to spoon feed the viewer, but it needs to make it interesting and moving.


The ending is both good and bad. It's poetic and moving, but makes no sense on a literal aspect. Are we really supposed to believe that the guy had one long hallucination through his entire life? And doesn't it make the entire story of the son meaningless?


The movie would have worked a LOT better as a short. Even at 76 min (excluding the credits) it's way too long for its premise.

For a movie that needs a constant fast-forwarding I'd usually not give more than 4/10, but for this one I'll give a pass for effort.
22 out of 47 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
overrated pretentious crap
richardkam6 October 2016
Warning: Spoilers
It's BFI time and all the luvvies are lining up to gush about this pretentious collaboration between some bloke who made an Oscar winning animation short in 2000, and Ghibli , who apparently chased and begged him to make this turd-fest. Why, no idea. Firstly this is a ghibli collaboration but there's no sign of any artistic mark that is recognizably ghibli. Usually ghibli has small comical moments but aside from the scuttling crabs and the big dead turtle, there is no similarity. And that's because this Oscar nominated director got us to sit through his (spoiler) boring tale about a guy on a desert island persuaded to stay after falling in love with a turtle who transforms into a woman, then back into a turtle again after he dies of old age.

Having to endure the 'castaway' cliché ( Tom hanks film circa 2000) again was just a waste of time. There's nothing original or heartfelt about this film, except that maybe commentary on how women ensnare men to have children and once the child is sent out, men have expired their 'use'. But in this film, the man is the one who could have escaped, but like an idiot, chooses to stay with the turtle who traps him on the island after he has bonked it on the head, for sabotaging his attempts to escape the island.

So, its his own stupid fault.

Watching this was a waste of 80min of my life, but hopefully, not yours.
38 out of 94 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
An error has occured. Please try again.

See also

Awards | FAQ | User Ratings | External Reviews | Metacritic Reviews

Recently Viewed