The Red Turtle a Feature Film Review

A review of the entrancing feature film The Red Turtle primarily produced by Studio Ghibli and Wild Bunch animation studios.  With current events in climate change I believe The Red Turtle could not have been more timely.

The animated feature film The Red Turtle at the Gulbenkian’s film festival in Canterbury on the 10th of July.


The Red Turtle was primarily produced by Studio Ghibli and Wild Bunch animation studios.  Although I have been a Studio Ghibli fan for many years, seeing a wide range of their films from Ponyo to Grave Of The Fireflies, I had never before experienced one of their productions with near to no dialogue.  This is something brilliant that makes The Red Turtle stand out from all the others. The Red Turtle premiered in 2016 and many viewers were immediately entranced by the emotional music and beautifully simple animation style.  The Red Turtle was called “A touching animated ode to the circle of life” by Eric Kohn from Indiewire.                 


The Red Turtle follows the story of a man who is trapped on a desert island.  He tries many times to escape on rafts but each time his path is broken by a mysterious Red Turtle.  One day the Turtle transfigures into a woman and the man and her unite settling and starting a family on the island.  They live a heartwarming simple life with occasional outbursts from nature such as a tsunami which interferes with their way of living.  The couple grow old together on the island and the ending is one that is hard to forget…


 Image from

Something truly exceptional about The Red Turtle is how the balance between man and nature has been portrayed.  I think one of the messages of the film is that the powers of nature will always ultimately triumph over man unless harmony can be obtained.  With current events in climate change I believe The Red Turtle could not have been more timely.


Laurent Perez del Mar the Composer for The Red Turtle carried out such a key element to the film.  Even with The Red Turtle’s almost silent genre the classical music said more than words could ever explain.

I loved experiencing The Red Turtle as a silent film.  Because the film was otherwise wordless I found it mildly out of place that the man trapped on the island was using words such as “hey!” near the beginning of the film.  I think the reason for this  could be that he discovered that he had no need for words anymore, if so this is a fantastic conclusion and I would have liked this loss of words to be portrayed slightly more clearly.

The watercolour palette used in the visual animation style of The Red Turtle is calm to the eyes and a perfect break from the modern CGI age. The animation is 2D but there is so much depth to the images such as the rows and rows of bamboo trees going back as far as the eye can see.

It is clear to see that every frame from The Red Turtle is worthy of being a star striking stand alone piece of art.


Do not think that this animation is a purely sweet tale because of its appearance.  There are many shocking truths hidden within, I have learnt a lot about one of my favourite art forms from The simple watercolour animation style and faultless soundtrack that is tailored perfectly to every scene in the film.  I think that everyone should experience the heartfelt life lessons about Nature, family and harmony that are buried within The Red Turtle.  To the old and young I cannot recommend it highly enough.


Sophia Mullender

Sophia Mullender

"creativity takes courage" - Henri Matisse

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