With THE TURTLE RED, the filmmaker Michael Dudok de Wit signs a first feature film in more than sixty years but it is, however, not to its beginnings in the profession. It has so far made many short films, including The Monk and the fish , or Father and Daughter (grand-prix at Annecy and the Oscar in 2000). The meeting with the studio Ghibli, co-producer, seems to be on elective affinities. One recognizes the same passion for the clear lines and the wonderful transformations of Nature spooky.

The turtle in red, which gives its title to the film seems to be the incarnation of this vital force to which our wrecked faces. Its origin is hidden. We will know nothing of the ship or the country from which comes this ill-fated, or how can exist such an animal giant the gift of metamorphosis. The first third of the film which delays the longer this encounter possible is paradoxically the most exciting. The castaway obviously wants to leave an island that is hostile, but the turtle red objects, for a reason that will never be given.

By crossing the eyes of european and japanese, The Turtle Red reached the status of fable, eco-friendly, universal in scope. Click To Tweet

Without any dialogue, the film is not a very understandable scene-by-scene. The animation always gives a readability to the issues of key importance to the characters (in general, survive). Here we find the obsession with the silent cinema to become a truly international language, beyond the cultural specificities. By crossing the eyes of the european and japanese, THE TURTLE RED reached the status of fable, eco-friendly, universal in scope. If he was the bearer of a message to par, the film is hoisting the rank of The man who planted trees.

At the same time, the film loses its strength as the turtle is transformed into an otherness that is reassuring, then, that it was the ambivalence of its first nature that we are fascinated and would spook us at the same time. By changing the shape to be closer to the castaway, the big unknown is erased in favor of a mere phantasmagoria which seems to be derived from the Thousand and one nights.

Yes, one can still interpret at the end of the film, which preceded it as the fruit of the imagination of the castaway to help him survive. But it is never pleasant to be back on a 1h30 movie in blowing the viewer “may be that it was all a dream…” there are already so many affinities between our daydreams and night these moving images, that one doesn’t hear that it was a dream. Creatures the most strange, we want to believe as a child listening to the stories that it tells him to fall asleep. THE TURTLE in RED is a beautiful journey, although its director is a little too aware of the mise en abyme that it wishes to communicate. One time, his final message delivered, the film of Michael Dudok de Wit washes up on the beach, such a shell dulled and tarnished shine.

Thomas Coispel
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