The Red Turtle


(spoiler free)

Nominated for the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature Film at the 89th Oscars, ‘The Red Turtle’ has finally swam into UK cinemas. A collaboration between Studio Ghibli & Wild Bunch, this non-verbal animation has certainly caught the attention of critics but will audiences alike have a similarly positive experience?

The story starts off very much like any other survival/ship wrecked film before it. We follow the main character as he becomes stranded on a deserted island. The standard trials of finding food, shelter & water follow. Throughout this section of the film and on a few occasions later on in the story there are a couple of really effective scenes. These moments will fill audiences with a sense of emotional unease. These isolated sequences are very powerful and make for engaging viewing. It’s a shame that the rest of the film manages to be so utterly boring. A massive factor that contributes to this is the non-verbal nature of the film. This decision makes sense for a certain portion of the film due to our characters circumstances. However once these circumstances change and opportunities for dialogue arise I found it frustrating that this element remained absent.

Furthermore, the central narrative itself is so bizarre and never fully explains itself which only added to my disinterest that I was already experiencing. I’m sure that there are some deep and meaningful themes on display here but I found that they were presented in such a dull fashion that I couldn’t engage with them. Man’s relationship with nature is probably one of the more obvious ones, something that would usually intrigue me quite a bit. Although, I’m afraid nothing here was able to draw me into the exploration of said theme. Thankfully though, the animation is as expected quite stunning, even if it’s sometimes simplistic with elements of it’s design. There are numerous scenes which take advantage of the context of this story creating beautiful visuals. Many audience members will find this to be reflective within the narrative but I’d be surprised if there wasn’t also a more muted response from certain viewers.

Maybe ‘The Red Turtle’ was victim to the hype machine for me but I just wasn’t impressed. The animation and a few selected scenes showcased the wonderful potential of the film. However, the repetitive nature of the narrative coupled with the lack of dialogue quickly became monotonous for me. I could see this film very much working as a short rather than a feature length production, as it’s existence in the latter format just wasn’t entertaining enough to sustain my attention.

Rating – 4/10

Question: What is your favourite survival movie?
(Leave your answers in the comments section below!)

Thanks for reading this review and please let me know what you thought about the movie! Leave a comment below or drop me a tweet over at @HCMovieReviews.

4 thoughts on “The Red Turtle

  1. This is, quite possibly, the harshest review of this film I have read!

    I admire your honesty and at every stage you provided justified reasons for your point of view. Good work.

    1. Yes, I haven’t actually seen any other negative comments about the film yet. Therefore I was especially careful to make sure I explained myself properly. I’m glad it’s come across like that. Never like to just go along with the crowd if I haven’t honestly experienced the same feelings. Cheers for the comment mate.

  2. The Red Turtle is a stunning, life-affirming animation that’s worthy of the esteemed Ghibli brand. By seeking to capture the simplicity of a parable or fable, Dudok de Wit manages to tell his story in a manner accessible to all. Like the jolly crabs which constantly scuttle across the beach, his film says so much without ever uttering a single word.

    1. Thanks for your comment Evelyn, it’s apparent that many have had a similar experience with this film as you did. Could I ask a few questions, just to help my understanding of the film, it’s meaning and the reception? What was the simple meaning behind the fable, and what did the film say to you? I was left wondering what it all really meant.

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