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‘The Red Turtle’ inspires a sensitive, simplistic style in animated storytelling

A scene from the movie
A scene from the movie "The Red Turtle" (La tortue rouge).
Screenshot from trailer, as seen on IMDB.

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Gracing the screen with his first animated feature, Michaël Dudok de Wit explores the milestones of a man deserted on a tropical island, yet inhabited by nature’s wonders - be they friendly land creatures or unforgiving storms.

But Dudok de Wit blends the familiar motif of a castaway with his intrigue for fantasy, and a beautiful form of storytelling that subtracts dialogue without diminishing the most visceral of human expression and emotions.

With simple yet stunning textures of hand-drawn lines, gorgeous color schemes and sensitive music breathing life into key moments, the film’s presenter, Studio Ghibli, may also catch an eye - names like Hayao Miyazaki and Isao Takahata have evoked beloved, mystical worlds for animation fans for decades. But now Dudok de Wit and his team of entirely European talent are the first outside artists to work with the giant Japanese animation house, after he was approached by the Ghibli Museum in 2006 about his Oscar-winning short film “Father and Daughter.”

Host Larry Mantle speaks with the Dutch animator about his minimalist style, the making of the film and its critical praise.


Michaël Dudok de Wit, writer and director of the animated feature, “The Red Turtle