Friday, November 4, 2016
POSTED BY: Bill Plympton
I've known Michael Dudok De Wit for about 20 years, since he first made "The Monk and the Fish", a beautiful animated short that revealed his massive illustrating talents - and when I saw his next film, the Oscar-winning short "Father and Daughter", I was convinced he was a genius. And then I watched his next film, "The Aroma of Tea", an abstract short colored by tea residue.
Well, now he has a celebrated feature, "The Red Turtle", made in France but co-produced by Studio Ghibli (of Miyazaki fame). People have been talking about this famed feature for years, and I finally got a chance to to see it on the big screen, as the opening night film at the ReAnimania Festival in Armenia.
Right off the bat, it's a gorgeous film, a marvel of beauty. Michael's film proves that 2-D (hand-drawn) animation can be just as visually awesome as any computer-generated film, and even more so.
However, I do have some comments on the story - it is some kind of allegory, but an allegory of what? This guy gets stranded on an island and meets a red turtle that changes into a beautiful woman, then he has a child with the woman. Eventually the woman and the child turn into turtles and leave the island. I suppose Michael's purpose was to make something mysterious, perhaps controversial, so people could argue the deeper meaning of "The Red Turtle".
The only conclusion I can come up with is that this Robinson Crusoe-like character took a turtle for a wife, had sex with her, and sired a young turtle. I guess maybe I'm bad at understanding allegories...
Legend has it that long ago, sailors who were at sea for extended periods of time confused walruses and porpoises for women (mermaids). I don't know if they had sex with them (perhaps) or sired little seal-people (hardly) but this could be the instigation of the turtle sex here. In any case, I wonder if that's a strong enough answer to the mysterious riddle of "The Red Turtle". But personally I prefer films that leave me satsified with the ending. I usually like a story to resolve at the end. I like life to have a definite meaning.
The only other fault in the film is the damn picture of birds flying in the sky. Michael did that a lot in "Father and Daughter" to great success, but I believe he got carried away with it in this feature. The film is long for an animated feature, and I believe if he cut out a lot of the flying birds, it could lose 5 or 10 minutes.
Still, I truly enjoyed the film and I believe it will become a classic. I give "The Red Turtle" a B+.
at 5:03 PM