Monthly Archives: January 2017

The Red Turtle

The Red Turtle

The Red Turtle is most impressive for what it does not do. There is not a spoken sentence in Michaël Dudok de Wit’s film, just a few speech-like effects. The storytelling comes primarily from visual effects, character gestures, and onscreen action. Most incredible of all is the animation, which employs both hand-drawn and 3D techniques.

In the opening scenes, a man battles storm-tossed waves that ultimately toss him onto the shores of a deserted island. He finds food, creates a shelter, and begins building a raft for his escape. Except for sea lions and a group of energetic crabs, he is entirely alone.

He finishes his raft and sets off. A large red turtle follows, destroying the raft when he is only minutes from shore. The man makes two more attempts, with the same result. He tries to kill the red turtle, which changes into a human woman.

Revealing more of the plot would deny audience members a truly special viewing experience. This film reminds me of Pixar’s WALL-E, because both are animated features that strongly resemble silent films (especially those of the late 1920s, which often had synchronized sound effects).

Skillful animation allows for interplay between characters with the bare minimum of gestures or motion. In a couple of key scenes, I understood what was going to happen but honestly could not say how I knew it. De Wit and his animation team use a combination of elements to carry off the illusion. (They had an expert guide for this task, Ghibli co-founder Isao Takahata.)

Although the film does not utilize dialogue, de Wit and his team found ways to make it feel natural. The track accompanying the film features recordings of humans laughing, coughing, and even breathing. Laurent Perez Del Mar’s score complements the action beautifully.

The script, co-written by de Wit (Father and Daughter) and Pascale Ferran (Bird People), arises from diverse sources. De Wit has sited fairy tales, Greek mythology, the book Kwaidan, the character Tintin, and American cartoonist/animator Winsor McCay as influences.

All of this comes together to create a poetic fable about the circle of life. I suspect The Red Turtle may have more admirers than full-out fans, but I also think it will live in the memory of everyone who sees it.

Theme: Animation For Romantics

Related Posts: Film Appreciation: WALL-Ehttp://www.thinkingcinema.com/film-appreciation-wall-e/

Animation For Romantics: List For Week Ending Jan. 29, 2017  http://www.thinkingcinema.com/animation-for-romantics-list-for-week-ending-jan-29-2017/

 

Film Appreciation: WALL-E

Film Appreciation: WALL-E

“What if mankind had to leave earth and somebody forgot to turn off the last robot?” Writer/director Andrew Stanton asked this question in 1994, during a lunch with fellow writers John Lasseter, Pete Docter, and Joe Ranft. They kicked around other ideas as well, including the basic concepts for A Bug’s Life, Monsters Inc., andContinue Reading

Film Review: Toni Erdmann

Film Review: Toni Erdmann

Toni Erdmann requires a bit of acclimation. Maren Ade’s film has a story that is equal parts mundane and outrageous. Although billed as a comedy, Toni Erdmann starts with a much slower pace than you would expect. Once you become familiar with the characters, though, all of this works to perfection. You do not evenContinue Reading

Film Appreciation: Mrs. Doubtfire

Film Appreciation: Mrs. Doubtfire

During the middle 1970s, author Anne Fine lived near an Edinburgh curio shop with an eye-catching sign in the window: Madame Doubtfire. On nice days, the rather fierce-looking Mrs. Doubtfire sat outside and smoked a clay pipe. Fine walked past with her young children, though she never stopped in. She remembered the name, though. FineContinue Reading

Dads On A Mission: List For Week Ending Jan. 22, 2017

Dads On A Mission: List For Week Ending Jan. 22, 2017

The films this week all involve fathers or father figures who make extraordinary efforts on behalf of their children. This is not intended as an all-inclusive list. Reader suggestions are welcome. If you know an addition to this list, please write using the comments below. Toni Erdmann (Reviewed In Thinking Cinema 1/20/17)  http://www.thinkingcinema.com/film-review-toni-erdmann/ Mrs. DoubtfireContinue Reading

Film Review: Julieta

Film Review: Julieta

Pedro Almodóvar has created a number of vivid, insightful films about women, such as All About My Mother and Volver. His latest, Julieta, is an ambitious undertaking. Almodóvar’s script combines elements of three short stories (“Chance”, “Soon”, and “Silence”) by Alice Munro. He elects to move the action from 1960s Canada to Spain in theContinue Reading

Film Appreciation: Marnie

Film Appreciation: Marnie

Mention Alfred Hitchcock’s 1964 film Marnie, and you are liable to get a variety of responses. Lesser Hitchcock, with some of the most blatantly phony sets ever. The one about the compulsive thief and liar. The film that inspired HBO’s The Girl, about Hitchcock’s obsession with star Tippi Hedren. An underrated masterpiece that is nowContinue Reading

Mother-Daughter Conflicts: List For Week Ending Jan. 15, 2017

Mother-Daughter Conflicts: List For Week Ending Jan. 15, 2017

Our films this week feature mother-daughter conflicts as a significant part of the story. This is not intended as an all-inclusive list. Reader suggestions are welcome. If you know an addition to this list, please write using the comments below. Julieta (2016) (Reviewed in Thinking Cinema 1/13/17)  http://www.thinkingcinema.com/film-review-julieta/ Marnie (1964) (Article in Thinking Cinema 1/13/17)Continue Reading

Film Review: A Monster Calls

Film Review: A Monster Calls

A Monster Calls is a complex story with a complex history. Writer Siobhan Dowd developed the idea while she was ill with breast cancer. Dowd contracted with Walker Books to write the story but died before she could do so. Walker arranged for one of its other writers, Patrick Ness, to take on the project.Continue Reading