One of the most difficult things to do is make a silent film that can keep an audience’s attention for an extended period of time. Directed by Dutch-British animator Michaël Dudok de Wit (in his feature film debut) this animated film tells the story of a man who meets a giant red turtle after landing on a deserted island. Every time the man tries to escape, the giant turtle wrecks his ship. Though the premise of a man on a deserted island may give people “Castaway” flashbacks, the way in which the film is structured makes the audience follow the events with painstaking detail.

Due to lack of dialogue the film relies heavily on music and diegetic noises to help progress the story forward.

The film is balanced in its realism and fantasy

For any animated film, this movie does a great job of staying true to the man’s journey. As this man gets stranded on a deserted island, you see witness all of the thoughts that anyone in that situation would go through. He contemplates his escape, he shows increasing amounts of frustration and at some points looks as though he wants to give up. Those emotions are very true and reflective of what any human would feel. The film also does a great job using silences and breaks to enhance the feeling of isolation and thoughts of insecurity that are going through this man’s head.

The film then brings in elements of fantasy in the way in which the human and turtle interact. The turtle at times seems to take on characteristics that are attributed more to a human and (in reverse) the human is sometimes animalistic. “The Red Turtle” is very much influenced by Japanese animated such as “Castle in the Sky” or “Spirited Away” in that it play it combines realism and fantasy in a way that is never viewed as a gimmick.

This film is delicate in its message

With other animated films such as “Moana” pushing forth a feminist agenda, this movie lets the audience figure out its message. In essence, the film is about man and nature and how both need each other. The film does not beat you over the head with this idea but in the interactions between the man and the turtle, we see that animals are much more than the disposable objects that we sometimes treat them as.

The turtle helps the man find solace in his situation and the man helps the turtle find a friend. This film is so beautifully drawn and drives home the idea that quality animated films are still able to be produced. Whether this movie wins the Academy Award or not, it is one that is worth watching and is both inspiring in its message and the world which it creates. This movie is not “The Lego Batman Movie” and I (for one) am so glad.