Wednesday, 23 November 2016

REVIEW - THE RED TURTLE (MICHAEL DUDOK DE WIT)


The Red Turtle shores up like a brisk, soothing tonic to the excesses of modern animation, indeed modern filmmaking in general. Michael Dudok de Wit's short, sweet fable is so slight that it hardly even concerns itself with that most intrinsic of qualities for a fable - its moral lesson. Rather, the film simply exists as it exists, its only lesson an incidental one to filmmakers preoccupied with grand artistic schemes and embellishments. The intentional regression in The Red Turtle is comprehensive, as Dudok de Wit seeks to make no statements on this process, instead only availing of its capacity for liberation - on such a blank canvas, he is able to indulge himself however he pleases. And indulge he does, producing a work whose power and purpose are situated not in any formal nor metatextual declarations but in a more primal, emotional sphere. The Red Turtle is inflected, between scene after scene of exquisite visual beauty, with moments of immense affective potency, a deep and direct extraction of emotional responses for which the film scarcely prepares us. If Dudok de Wit's objectives are common and coarse, his motives are sound and his techniques superb, if for no other reason than his resounding success - this is a most moving film. Its near-archetypal stature as an animated film may appear as natural as anything depicted herein, though it's actually strictly relative, wholly dependent upon context; place this film next to 90% of the industry's 3D hackjobs and only then can one appreciate its worth. Perhaps here is Dudok de Wit's statement, and it's a fittingly straightforward one: in life, simplicity affords the greatest fulfilment. Maybe we could all benefit from getting lost at sea more often.