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Ciné Sunday: The Red Turtle

Michael Dudok de Wit

For their first collaborative European project, Japanese animation powerhouse Studio Ghibli have made The Red Turtle, a beautiful and contemplative story about nature, the passage of time and survival. Dutch illustrator and animator Michael Dudok de Wit’s debut feature is entirely without dialogue, and shows how sound and image can be just as powerful a communicator as the spoken or written word.

"...full of unexpected wonder and never for a moment dull."

The film opens as a man is struggling to stay alive in some very dangerous and stormy waters. When he wakes after the storm, he is on an island beach surrounded by sand, rocks, forest and, thankfully, a fresh water pond. Hemmed in on all sides by endless sea, our hero begins to take the steps he needs to in order to survive. He shakes fruit from the trees and fishes for his dinner in the ocean. Not content to stay on the island forever, he builds a raft and tries to sail away. When that fails, he tries again, and again. Then one day, a giant red turtle appears and the two forge a unique friendship.

A celebration of colour and the beauty of the natural world, The Red Turtle is breathtaking in its simplicity and effectiveness. A rare thing in this hurried world of ours, this film asks you to stop and explore the joys of observation and meditation, but it is full of unexpected wonder and never for a moment dull.