Co-produced by Japan’s legendary Studio Ghibli (makers of ‘Spirited Away’), this elegantly spare and dialogue-free animated film casts a magical spell. Set entirely on a speck of desert island, ‘The Red Turtle’ wrecks you with its luscious hues: turquoise shallow waters, a dense olive-green forest untouched by humankind, angry pink dawns and – most impressively – a series of black-and-white starry nights.
At first, the film resembles one of those gripping Sunday afternoon survival dramas, as a dot-eyed shipwrecked man stirs to life on the beach (thanks to some nosy crabs). He finds fruit and fresh water, learns the rhythms of the daily rain showers and barely escapes a fall into a slippery grotto. He has no company, no volleyball à la Tom Hanks in ‘Cast Away’. As he charges out into the water on his makeshift raft, you can feel his desperation.
The majestic red turtle of the title, meanwhile, has other ideas about this Robinson Crusoe’s getaway. As it evolves into something deeper, like other films in the Studio Ghibli universe, ‘The Red Turtle’ shares the company’s holistic belief in a wider natural world with powers of its own.