“‘If one day Studio Ghibli decides to produce an animator from outside the studio, it will be him’, was Miyazaki’s pronouncement after watching Dudok de Wit’s Oscar-winning animated short Father and Daughter… Sixteen years after Father and Daughter, Studio Ghibli and Dudok de Wit’s collaboration has come into being.
It begins in the middle of a storm. Grey waves and raindrops engulf the screen. In the corner, a tiny head surfaces and then sinks. The nameless man is washed up on a beach with bits of his broken boat. A crab crawls up his leg. When he goes to explore, the view pulls right back so all we see is a remote island while his cries ring out. His only company is a cast of crabs (such an apt collective noun!). Several times he tries to escape with a makeshift bamboo raft, but each time a mysterious force in the water breaks up his boat. Eventually he discovers his secretive aggressor: the titular red turtle.
I’ll leave it there with the plot, because you don’t really want to know much more about a mythical fantasy like this one before you see it…
Pictures are the film’s currency and they are, without exaggeration, sublime… The depth and texture on show here – conjured from a surge of pencil marks and watercolour washes – is remarkable. The film is a must for the big screen.” — Isabel Stevens, Sight & Sound