I’m leaving home because The Red Turtle said it was okay.
A man is alone on an island.
A man falls in love, grows old and dies on an island.
We watch as his life is turned into a constant push and pull; think Robinson Crusoe, steeped in animation. However, it isn’t Robinson Crusoe. Throughout the first act you see the man, who is alone on an island, battle with the stereotypical aspects of being stranded on said island: He builds a boat, multiple times, all with no success. He becomes trapped in a cave, only to have to swim through a narrow gap. Pretty rudimentary stuff. Introduce a big red turtle and it all changes.
From survival to philosophical connotations, The Red Turtle changes from an animated castaway to a discussion of life, acceptance, and love. It is wordless, though not without sound. You find narration in nature, figures through the grass, the wind whistling, rising and falling like changing emotions or your breath after you’ve ran to meet someone realising you would be late. This emotion is seen in the arrival of the red turtle.
Washed up like our man, who is now not alone on an island, you see the turtle lie there. It doesn’t move, it never moved, it changed. The turtle is now a woman.
Before the arrival of the woman the island was empty, though there were trees, grass, sand and a few overly friendly crabs, there was no substance. No meaning, no love, no purpose. From here on in you see a relationship blossom, though silent, our two leads interact by knowing: they know the emotion of the other, leading to scenes which resonate more with a viewer than any production line romance could. Leading to my main point, The Red Turtle shows you that its okay to change, its okay to develop and leave for something new. As the two leads develop they bring a child into their isolated, yet perfect world. He too grows old, he learns to walk, swim, and communicate, grow mature, fish and finally, leave. Like every realistic love story someone must leave. Somehow, in an animation, which only runs for an hour and twenty minutes, I found resolution, it showed me it was okay to follow a path I believe, it showed me that leaving something behind is okay.
Written by Louis Edwards