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The Red Turtle (2016)

Drama Rated PG

Dialogue-free but drenched in the sounds of the natural world, The Red Turtle is a richly immersive cinematic experience—animated or otherwise. The story itself is as old as Robinson Crusoe: a man adrift at sea washes up on an island shore, where he struggles to survive for a number of years. Dutch director Michael Dudok de Wit and his collaborators use sound design—the scritching of crabs across the sand, the whispering of the wind through the trees, the calling of seagulls far above—to enhance the gorgeous natural imagery. Painterly hues shift across the sand and sea, while the deep green of the bamboo forest, where the leaves waft to and fro, gives the impression that we’re in the heart of a breathing emerald. The visuals alone make The Red Turtle an astonishing achievement, but the film gains a deeper resonance after the man’s encounter with the title creature some 20 minutes in. Suddenly the movie takes a mystical turn reminiscent of the work of Hayao Miyazaki (whose home studio, Ghibli, serves as one of the production companies). Borrowing from both mermaid tales and the biblical account of Adam and Eve, The Red Turtle evokes, in its primeval beauty, something of a seaside Garden of Eden, albeit one where the specter of death has already wormed its way in.