Okay, there is a lot going on in this movie. I may be the stupidest movie viewer but even I was able to understand the symbolism of the things that were happening. Some of them flew right past me and I wasn’t able to understand but I think I got 40% of what was going on. Swimming into it then. Before that, I forget to say this but SPOILERS! SPOILERS! SPOILERS AHEAD! I actually cannot do reviews without spoiling it a bit, so my apologies if I’ve spoiled any of your movies in the past.
SCREENPLAY and DIRECTION – This movie has been written and directed by Michael Dudok de Wit and the screenplay is done by Pascale Ferran. There is no dialogue, so fair warning if you’re not a fan of that. There are a few grunts and cries but no dialogue whatsoever. So again before I dive in, SPOILER WARNING.
If you watch the movie as it is then you can clearly make these inferences. A guy gets stranded on an island and is unable to escape the island because of a red turtle. Every-time he tries, his efforts are squashed by this red turtle. On getting an opportunity to entrap the turtle, the guy ends up killing it and by some miracle, out comes a girl from the cracked shell of the red turtle. I am not kidding. This is what happens. You can consider that the guy is dead in the 1st case and all what we are seeing is a hallucination. Now consider my alternate theory.
My alternate theory can be absolute turd because I’ve no idea of what symbolism I’ve missed. So I will try to form a theory based on what ever I have managed to grasp. Consider this film as a poem. A poem about the psyche of a man who is lost, which can be compared to him being at the sea. He reaches the island and is stranded. Probably something similar to being isolated from society or it is a metaphor for relationship. He tries to get back to a normal life but is obstructed by this turtle. Now, here’s where I am a bit confused. The man was probably running away from the relationship(the island) and circumstances bring him back there. He had an abusive relationship with the woman(the red turtle) but she coaxes him to stay. Out of rage he hurts her badly and realises what he has done and is sorry. Seeing that the man is genuinely sorry, she opens up hence the cracking of the shell. After that it is pretty easy. They start a new life. The kid falling into the crevice of water is something similar to letting go of your kid when he/she is learning to ride a bicycle. The storm is a metaphor for a crisis the family faces. Then the kid decides to go beyond the horizon and explore which is comparable to adolescence . Then comes old age and that’s pretty much it. I didn’t understand the woman turning back into a turtle. Neither literally nor symbolically.
ANIMATION – Truth be told, it didn’t feel like animation. It felt like I was in some other dimension. The physics of the human characters was very good. The colours were so vibrant and everything was so detailed. You can see every single strand of the bamboo leaves. It was extremely beautiful and quite different from what I’ve seen till now. The fluidity of the movement was a little similar to the Disney Snow White movie. I think each frame of Snow White was hand-painted, and if they have done the same thing here then I must say, the results are excellent.
MUSIC – The music is the only interactive character with the movie. Interactive in the sense that the music is the only thing that lets the audience know about what is about to come or what is the current situation. Usually, dialogues do that job but here you have only music. The music actually helped appreciate the scenery even more. Just imagine listening to a symphony like that while watching the sun set. I could get used to that.
FINAL VERDICT – I’ll tell you to see it, definitely give it a watch. Then again it can be a hit or a miss and I cannot guarantee that. It was a definite hit for me but like I mentioned before, there is a good chance you can be put off due to the lack of dialogue but the movie has the capability to keep you engaged because just when you start realising there is no dialogue, you start realising the underlying message. That will certainly keep you hooked.