Animated Movies, Reviews, Studio Ghibli

[REVIEW] Studio Ghibli’s ‘The Red Turtle’

Share on Pinterest

The Red Turtle first caught my attention because it was up for an Academy Award this year. I went in not knowing much other than that. The title credits started and, once I saw it was a Studio Ghibli film, an entire ‘wave’ of anticipation hit me. Okay, maybe it was just because I was watching this man fight for his life as he is shipwrecked. (Too punny?)

Some say The Red Turtle is a fable, but generally fables come with a moral and I just couldn’t figure out what that moral of this movie was. So I had to look up the official synopsis:

“Through the story of a man shipwrecked on a tropical island inhabited by turtles, crabs and birds, ‘The Red Turtle’ recounts the milestones in the life of a human being.”

That helped because – with the exception of grunts, laughs, and screams – there is no dialogue. That doesn’t mean the film isn’t descriptive. The visuals are beautiful and the pacing was deliberate, taking it’s time, like most Studio Ghibli films. It gives you a chance to breath and take in the details. It leaves you asking more questions and open to the lessons life wants to show you.

The score was perfect for the film and really accentuated the dramas of life. Overall, I enjoyed the film. I enjoyed the time I had with my thoughts and, even though I wouldn’t give it a high replay value, I think seeing it once will be worth it.


The Red Turtle opened in select theaters nationwide, on January 20, 2017. You can buy tickets here. If you are in the Phoenix area, there will have a limited release starting on Friday, February 3rd at Harkins Camelview at Fashion Square 14.

Edited by: Hannah Wilkes

Share on Pinterest

About Chelsea Robson

Chelsea Robson, Co-host of the Animation Addicts Podcast, studied studio engineering and is a singer/songwriter and is know as "The World Traveler of the Podcast." She speaks fluent Portuguese, loves being outdoors, hiking small mountains, riding horses, and talking about human nature.
  • Rachel Wagner

    Glad you got to see Red Turtle. I loved this so much. I think there is a moral. It’s about fate and how sometimes nature know what’s for us better than we do. At least that’s what I took from it. The original score was amazing and I personally didnt need dialogue. Stunning

    • Marielle

      I thought maybe the message was about answering the question: what is the meaning of life / what constitutes a fulfilling life? And the proposed answer was that it’s about connections: finding a partner, having children, passing on your knowledge, watching your child become their own person, letting go, dying. These are the illustrated “beats” of life, though you could substitute partner for friend and children for students, colleagues or other types of mentees.

      But I felt like something was missing. Like maybe the guy had dreams for his life before getting shipwrecked on the island. Maybe he had things that he wanted to accomplish professionally. But maybe the point is that even if life gets in the way of all of your projects and efforts and you constantly get set back, you can still live a fulfilling life. Maybe the essential is not really that big goal we fight to achieve. I think I like your version better. Nature gives us what we need.

    • Jeremiah

      It can’t be a fable if the moral isn’t direct and prominent enough for pretty much anyone to take it away.

      • Rachel Wagner

        I dont know if I agree with you

        • Jeremiah

          Isn’t the point of a fable to impart a moral?

          • Rachel Wagner

            I dont think it needs to be a super obvious moral to be a fable. Zootopia is obviously a more clear fable but I saw the moral here pretty clearly. I disagree that a fable’s moral or message must be prominent and obvious. Some parables require pondering and that’s the case with this movie. I think there is tons the film is trying to say about nature and life and how fate sometimes makes sure we make certain choices