The Red Turtle
Who: Directed by Michael Dudok De Wit.
Rated: PG (for some thematic elements and peril).
Running time: 80 minutes.
When: Opens Friday.
Where: Cedar Lee Theatre, 2163 Lee Road, Cleveland Heights.
CLEVELAND, Ohio - "The Red Turtle" is an Academy Award nominee for best animated feature film.
But this gorgeously drawn movie is much more than a children's film. It's a meditation on the very meaning of existence, identity and love.
The film was drawn and directed by Dutch animator Michael Dudok de Wit, but viewers could be forgiven for mistaking it for a Japanese release, it is so much in the poetic tradition of Studio Ghibli, who produced the film. Almost completely drawn by hand, it was the first release de Wit drew in digital 2-D, with the backgrounds done as charcoal on paper.
"The Red Turtle" tells the story of a man shipwrecked on a deserted island. Sort of. You see, "The Red Turtle" is completely wordless. No words "tell" this story. We interpret it as de Wit draws, seeing the man washed ashore on the remote rock after a fierce battle with towering waves.
The man never speaks - who would he talk to? - and there is no sense of when or where he is. Instead, de Wit is more concerned with the "why" and "how" of his existence. Can this lone man get off the island? Will he keeping trying? Why can't he go? We are all island-bound in a way, and we can all relate.
The first part of the film is concerned with his lonely efforts, with failed attempts and hallucinations commonplace. When the unnamed man finally does set sail, all does not go as he had hoped. There is a force holding him back, and he reacts violently. It's at this point that the previously existential film enters fairy-tale territory.
The man is no longer alone -- or is he? It wouldn't be fair to give too much away in this powerful, lovely film, but suffice it to say it goes in completely unexpected directions. But even here, on this stark island, this man deals with questions and emotions anyone, anywhere can relate to -- without saying a word.
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