The Silence of Life: Our Review of ‘The Red Turtle’

The Silence of Life: Our Review of ‘The Red Turtle’

There’s something to be appreciated in the art of simplicity, but only up to a point.  The Red Turtle is a stunningly beautiful film coming out of the Studio Ghibli factory but ultimately ends up handicapping itself as more of a piece of art then a traditional narrative film that can be embraced by wider audiences.

Via the unique story of a man shipwrecked on a tropical island that is solely inhabited by turtles, crabs and birds we get a dialogue less fable about the stages and the milestones that we all encounter in our lives as human beings.

On one end, The Red Turtle is a unique and stunning piece of cinema that allows those open to the experience to go on an amazing journey that sparks the imagination and lets us make it anything that the viewer wants it to be, much like a lush piece of abstract imagery or a piece of poetry filled with countless allusions.  However on the other side of that spectrum, The Red Turtle is just a very pretty and very silent film (it has no dialogue) that you may actually struggle to stay awake through.

In his first feature effort, director Michael Dudok de Wit takes us into an isolated and truly humanistic world as we see are hero struggle with such basic needs as survival to things a little more complex like companionship.  It’s simplistic but truly classical and the lush visuals allow us to embrace the ride that he is trying to take us on.  It feels often mythical at times as there is something to be said about allowing the visuals that you have on hand tell more about a story then any dialogue any could.  However it also drags and feels a little pedantic at times as the point comes across a little quicker then Dudok de Wit would have wanted.

Traditional audiences will run the risk of getting pretty bored by this as he flashes allegorical and philosophical ideas across the screen at audiences.  It’s much more a piece of art that should be playing in a museum then in a multiplex but the beauty in this effort is simply undeniable and at the end of the day, The Red Turtle is not going to be something that you take the kids to as it is a high brow and very much adult affair from beginning to end that will spark the passion in the kid in all of us as this harsh yet stunning world of the nature world that this character lives in will make us as adults appreciate those little things that we take for granted.

This post was written by

David Voigt, has been a lover of cinema all his life and an actual underpaid critic for a solid 5 years covering everything that the city of Toronto has to offer. He was a content manager in video distribution industry before that and his love of all things cinema goes back to his first moments in awe looking up at the big screen. His 12 years of experience on the home entertainment side of the business have provided him with a unique view on what is worth spending your hard earned entertainment dollars on. Combine that with his unquestioned love of film, David should be your only stop to find out about the best in film, not only in Toronto, but worldwide.