The Red Turtle | Film | Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh City Paper

The Red Turtle

A beautifully animated film about a castaway and the new life he creates

A castaway washes up on the shore of a small tropical island in Michael Dudok de Wit’s lyrical and dialogue-free animated feature. The man explores the island; he is alone but for curious sand crabs, but finds fruit and water. He makes several attempts to leave on bamboo rafts, but is thwarted just offshore by a large sea turtle. Enraged, he later confronts the turtle on land, but in a bit of unexplained magic, the turtle transforms into a woman.

Thus does the story shift, focusing not on the man escaping the island, but on how now, with companionship, he embraces his new life on it. There is not a lot of plot — lest we forget that simply living is its own story — with the film instead growing increasingly existential and even experiential (the exquisite animation and sound design is quite transporting).

It’s a short work, at less than 80 minutes, and it should hold kids who can sit through a slower-paced film (though it is probably best for older children who can manage some sad parts and scenes of peril). The Dutch director’s film is the first non-Japanese work to be produced by the renowned Studio Ghibli; it has also been nominated for Best Animated Feature in this year’s Academy Awards.

Starts Fri., Feb. 24. AMC Loews Waterfront

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