TV Party Tonight! #028

TV Party Tonight! #028

Friday, 26 May 2017

The Red Turtle

The Red Turtle comes at a very interesting time. Its calm and subtle style is in stark contrast to the current movie climate of jump cuts, fast-paced-action, and obvious plot lines. Even more, this obviously “western” project (Dutch director and European team) is produced by Studio Ghibli. So who is this movie for? Marketed by an anime studio, yet westernized in its look, mythical and ethereal in its tone?

I think it’s important to have the right mindset when watching the Red Turtle. Don’t have any expectations and just take in the scenery. The Red Turtle certainly has plenty to look at as it mixes a unique style of highly detailed backgrounds with very isolated minimal animation. The characters are behaving and reacting in an almost static camera shot and are allowed to interact with their environment. This might sound boring, but with animation this smooth and gorgeous, it’s actually quite enjoyable and easy to appreciate. The Red Turtle is going to move at its own pace (sometimes like its namesake) and as the story unfolds we come to realize that some things will remain a mystery. In that sense, The Red Turtle is very much a movie about humanity, about life and death, about making the best of a situation, and about accepting that some things are out of our control. Maybe sometimes what is happening is not as important as where they are happening. Life can be beautiful no matter how it unfolds.

The Red Turtle blu ray release comes packed with some interesting extras: an audio commentary by the director, a making-of featurette, and a short piece showing how the animation is done.  From a production standpoint, we learn a lot about how much work went into this movie, but not much about its story. At no point is the significance of the red turtle addressed or the strange visitor to the island. A shame, but maybe that’s the point after all.

The Red Turtle stands out as a movie that can be appreciated for its humanity and subtlety. And in a movie climate that’s become increasingly aggressive, it stands out for all the best reasons.


Some Stray Commentaries:

  • The Red Turtle took 10 years to make, apparently.
  • The crabs have definitely taken on the role of the soot creatures or kodamas as the comic relief.
  • Director de Wit repeatedly confesses how much he would to be stuck on this island. I guess he’s a glass half full kind of guy.

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