80 minutes | MPAA rating: PG
Even viewers who have a hard time with Japanese anime (I can’t be the only one) will be blown away by the Oscar-nominated “The Red Turtle,” an achingly beautiful fable about a shipwrecked man that without one word of dialogue creates a fully credible world.
Produced by Japan’s famed Studio Ghibli and written and directed by Dutch animator Michaël Dudok de Wit, “Turtle” opens spectacularly with a storm at sea — it’s like a Hokusai woodblock print come to life. Almost lost among the foam and towering waves is a human form, a man struggling to stay afloat.
Like Robinson Crusoe, our unnamed, unspeaking hero finds himself stranded on an uninhabited island. Little by little he learns the tricks of survival, eating fish and fruit, clothing himself in sealskin, drinking fresh water from an inland pool surrounded by a lush bamboo forest.
De Wit places much emphasis on small but exquisitely rendered details: A soundtrack filled with natural noises. Studies of the creatures who share the island with the man (curious crabs, birds, millipedes, insects).
Almost immediately our hero begins thinking about escape. He constructs a series of rafts which are inexplicably destroyed by some unseen sea creature apparently bent on keeping him on the island.
Finally the culprit is revealed…a huge red sea turtle. Eventually the beast is stranded on the shore and killed by the man, only to transform into… a red-headed woman?
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