Having missed the opportunity to see The Red Turtle on its release earlier this year I was thrilled to see it selected for screening at the recent Cinemagic festival in Belfast. Added to this was the fact that it was to be introduced by critic Mark Kermode whose review of the film on release had made me long to see a film that otherwise may have easily passed me by.
The Red Turtle is a Studio Ghibil and Wild Bunch co-production and tells the tale of a ship wrecked man who encounters the titular Red Turtle as he attempts to leave the uninhabited island he has found himself on. The turtle refuse to let him leave, destroying his raft on several occasions and when the turtle comes ashore he, in a fit of rage, overturns the animal only to be filled with regret. What follows is a story which is full of wonder, fantasy and universal appeal that had a deeply profound and lasting effect on me.
The animation is truly beautiful at points, the many shades of beautiful water and sandscapes not to mention the night time sequences that have a beautiful monochrome aesthetic giving a wonderful realness to the feel of the film. It also must be acknowledged that this is, for the most part a silent film. A film in which the only real sounds are the reactions, yells of frustration or cries of joy on our shipwrecked humans part. The only other sounds that exist within the film come from nature and the island's surroundings, the wind in the trees, the crashing waves, the falling rain all things that every viewer can appreciate and understand.
The universal appeal does not only lie within the films soundscape but also its message. Within its components of fantasy lives the acknowledgement and charting of the major milestones of human existence. Birth, death, companionship, joy, loss all have their moments and are all dealt with in such a loving and tender manner that should be impossible to watch The Red Turtle and not see something of your own story within its frames.
A film that highlights mans relationship with nature and its unbridled power. A film that reminded me of the call from Eden for humankind to act as caretakers and curators of this world, and also contemplated with great depth the connectivity and the oneness that lies within.
The Red Turtle is simply beautiful, a film with a universally profound story that will soothe many a weary soul in these chaotic times.