Combustible Celluloid
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Written by: Pascale Ferran, Michael Dudok de Wit, based on a story by Michael Dudok de Wit
Directed by: Michael Dudok de Wit
MPAA Rating: PG for some thematic elements and peril
Running Time: 80
Date: 01/20/2017

The Red Turtle (2016)

2 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

Shell Bound

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Studio Ghibli produced this film by director Michael Dudok de Wit, who was born in the Netherlands. Aside from some grunting and shouting, it has no dialogue. The hand-drawn animation is absolutely gorgeous, with special attention given to space, light, sound, and atmosphere. The characters themselves have very simple faces, with only dots for eyes, but their movements are sublime. Yet I found The Red Turtle to be relentlessly depressing, tainted by cruelty. A man is stranded on deserted island. He makes several attempts to built rafts to escape, but each time his rafts are destroyed by a giant red turtle. He gets mad and tries to kill the turtle by turning it on its back, but it turns into a beautiful woman. They have a child and live out the rest of their lives on the island, which includes nearly being wiped out by a monstrous tidal wave. I couldn't ever get over that the main relationship is built on mistreatment, not to mention that, to begin with, I generally don't like this genre. With the exception of some brief comic relief by some sand crabs, I found the movie a huge downer, but perhaps others will admire its artistry. The filmmaker is a previous Oscar winner for Best Animated Short, for Father and Daughter (2000), as well as a nominee for The Monk and the Fish (1994).

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