The Red Turtle

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The Red Turtle
US theatrical release poster
Directed byMichaël Dudok de Wit
Written by
Produced by
Edited byCéline Kélépikis
Music byLaurent Perez del Mar
Distributed by
  • Wild Bunch (France)
  • Toho (Japan)
Release dates
  • 18 May 2016 (2016-05-18) (Cannes)
  • 29 June 2016 (2016-06-29) (France)
  • 17 September 2016 (2016-09-17) (Japan)
Running time
80 minutes
  • Japan
  • France
Budget€10 million[4]
Box office$6.6 million[5]

The Red Turtle (French: La Tortue rouge; Japanese: レッドタートル ある島の物語, romanizedReddo Tātoru: Aru Shima no Monogatari) is a 2016 animated fantasy drama film directed by Dutch animator Michaël Dudok de Wit who co-wrote the film with French screenwriter Pascale Ferran. The film is an international co-production between Studio Ghibli and several French companies, including Wild Bunch and Belvision.[a] The film, which has no dialogue, tells the story of a man who becomes shipwrecked on an uninhabited island and meets a giant red female turtle.[6]

The film premiered in the Un Certain Regard section at the 69th Cannes Film Festival on 18 May 2016.[7][8] The film was nominated for the Best Animated Feature Film for the 89th Academy Awards.


A man set adrift by a storm wakes up on a beach. He discovers that he is on an uninhabited island with plenty of fresh water, fruit, and a dense bamboo forest. It is dominated by a smooth rock hill. After a few nights he begins to hallucinate, firstly seeing a string quartet playing on the beach. He builds a raft from bamboo and attempts to sail away, but his raft is destroyed by an unseen creature in the sea, forcing him back to the island. He tries again with a larger raft, but is again foiled by the creature. A third attempt ends with the raft destroyed, but this time he is confronted by a giant sea turtle with a bright red shell.

That evening, the man sees the red turtle crawling up the beach. In anger, he hits it on the head with a bamboo stick, then flips it over onto its back, stranding it. While working on another raft, he feels remorse and returns to the turtle but it is too heavy for him to flip over. He fetches water for it, but when he returns, it is dead. He falls asleep next to it. In the morning, the man is surprised to find a red-haired woman lying unconscious inside the shell, which has split. He fetches water for her and builds a shelter to protect her from the sun. When rain hits, the woman wakes up and goes swimming. The woman casts the shell adrift on the sea and the man does the same to his raft. The two fall in love.

The couple have a red-haired son. The curious boy finds a glass bottle and his father and mother tell him their story through pictographs. After accidentally falling into the sea, the boy learns he is a natural swimmer, and swims with three green turtles. He swims back to his mother, who hugs him and looks out at the sea with apprehension. The boy grows into a young man. One day, a tsunami hits the island, destroying most of the bamboo forest and separating the family.

After the tsunami recedes, the young man searches for his parents and finds his mother wounded with no sign of his father. He swims out to sea and is joined by three turtles. They find his father clinging to a large bamboo tree. Just as he slips under the water, they arrive and rescue him. The young man also finds his glass bottle, and the family clean up the wreckage and burn the dead bamboo.

One day the young man has a dream about swimming away into the sea. The water becomes static, allowing him to swim to the top of a huge wave, from which he can see further over the horizon. He says goodbye to his parents and swims away with the three green turtles. The man and woman continue to live on the island and grow old together, still very much in love. One night, after gazing at the Moon, the man closes his eyes and dies. The woman grieves. She lies next to him, and lays her hand on his. As her hand transforms into a flipper and she transforms back into the red turtle, she crawls down the beach and swims away.


The film was co-produced by Wild Bunch and Studio Ghibli in association with Why Not Productions, along with funding and support from Prima Linea Productions, Arte France Cinéma, CN4 Productions, and Belvision in France, and Nippon Television Network, Dentsu, Hakudodo DY Media Partners, Walt Disney Japan, Mitsubishi Corporation, and Toho in Japan.

The film originated in 2008 when Wild Bunch co-founder Vincent Maraval visited the Japanese animation studio Studio Ghibli in Tokyo. Maraval met Ghibli co-founder Hayao Miyazaki who showed him Father and Daughter (2000), an animated short film written and directed by Dutch animator Michaël Dudok de Wit. Miyazaki told Maraval that if the studio was to ever produce a film with a foreign animator de Wit would be the one, and asked Miraval to locate him.[9] The head of acquisitions at Wild Bunch tracked de Wit in London, where Miraval subsequently met him to discuss the possibility of producing an animated feature film. De Wit was uninterested at first, but changed his mind when he learned Miyazaki was interested to collaborate with him. The screenplay was written by de Wit and Pascale Ferran.[10][9]


The film had its world premiere on 18 May at the 2016 Cannes Film Festival, where it competed in the Un Certain Regard section.[11] On 13 June, it was screened as the opening film of the 2016 Annecy International Animated Film Festival.[12] The regular French release was 29 June 2016.[13]

It was released in Japan on 17 September 2016, by Toho.[14] The movie was released on DVD and Blu-Ray by Walt Disney Japan through the Ghibli Ga Ippai label on March 17, 2017, with the Blu-Ray version also containing Michaël Dudok de Wit's other short films.[15]

In May 2016, Sony Pictures Classics acquired the North and Latin American distribution rights for the film[16] and was released in the United States on 20 January 2017.

The Red Turtle was played in the London Film Festival on 5 October 2016 and eventually released in the United Kingdom by StudioCanal on 26 May 2017.[citation needed][17]


Critical response[edit]

The Red Turtle received critical acclaim. On review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, the film has a 93% score based on 169 reviews, with an average of 8.1/10. The site's critical consensus reads, "The Red Turtle adds to Studio Ghibli's estimable legacy with a beautifully animated effort whose deceptively simple story boasts narrative layers as richly absorbing as its lovely visuals."[18] Metacritic reports an 86 out of 100 rating, based on 32 reviews, indicating "universal acclaim".[19]

In Japan it was released in theaters on 17 September and grossed a total of $328,750 during its first weekend.[20]


Award Date of ceremony Category Recipient(s) Result Ref(s)
Academy Awards 26 February 2017 Best Animated Feature Michaël Dudok de Wit and Toshio Suzuki Nominated [21]
Annie Awards 4 February 2017 Best Animated Feature — Independent The Red Turtle Won [23]
Outstanding Achievement, Animated Effects in an Animated Production Mouloud Oussid Nominated
Outstanding Achievement, Directing in an Animated Feature Production Michaël Dudok de Wit Nominated
Outstanding Achievement, Music in an Animated Feature Production Laurent Perez del Mar Nominated
Outstanding Achievement, Writing in an Animated Feature Production Michaël Dudok de Wit and Pascale Ferran Nominated
Cannes Film Festival 21 May 2016 Un Certain Regard Special Prize Michaël Dudok de Wit Won [2]
Prize Un Certain Regard Nominated
Camera d'Or Nominated
Chicago Film Critics Association 15 December 2016 Best Animated Film The Red Turtle Nominated [24]
Critics' Choice Awards 11 December 2016 Best Animated Feature Nominated [25]
Los Angeles Film Critics Association 4 December 2016 Best Animated Film Runner-up [26]
Magritte Award 4 February 2017 Best Foreign Film in Coproduction Won [27]
Best Sound Nils Fauth and Peter Soldan Nominated
Online Film Critics Society 3 January 2017 Best Animated Feature The Red Turtle Nominated [28]
San Francisco Film Critics Circle 11 December 2016 Best Animated Feature Won [29]
Satellite Awards 19 February 2017 Best Animated or Mixed Media Feature Nominated [31]
Toronto Film Critics Association 11 December 2016 Best Animated Film Runner-up [32]


  1. ^ Produced with the support of Eurimages, La Région Poitou-Charentes, Le Département de la Charente (with Pôle Image Magelis and CNC), La Region Wallonne, Nippon Television Network, Dentsu, Hakudodo DY Media Partners, Walt Disney Japan, Mitsubishi Corporation, and Toho, with the participation of Canal+, Ciné+ and Arte France, in association with Cinémage 9, Palatine Etoile 11, Palatine Etoile 12, and the BNP Paribas Fortis Film Fiance.


  1. ^ "The Red Turtle - descriptions". Prima Linea Productions. Archived from the original on 5 June 2016. Retrieved 23 May 2016.
  2. ^ a b Amidi, Amid (22 May 2016). "Michael Dudok de Wit's 'The Red Turtle' Wins At Cannes". Cartoon Brew. Retrieved 22 May 2016.
  3. ^ "The Red Turtle French press kit" (PDF) (in French). Wild Bunch. Archived (PDF) from the original on 22 May 2016. Retrieved 22 May 2016.
  4. ^ "Interview: Michaël Dudok De Wit, director of 'The Red Turtle'". AFA: Animation For Adults : Animation News, Reviews, Articles, Podcasts and More. Retrieved 17 November 2023.
  5. ^ "The Red Turtle (2017) - International Box Office Results". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 8 September 2016.
  6. ^ Amidi, Amid (13 May 2016). "Watch the Trailer for Michael Dudok de Wit's 'The Red Turtle,' Debuting At Cannes". Cartoon Brew. Retrieved 23 May 2016.
  7. ^ "2016 Cannes Film Festival Announces Lineup". IndieWire. 14 April 2016. Retrieved 14 April 2016.
  8. ^ "Cannes 2016: Film Festival Unveils Official Selection Lineup". Variety. 14 April 2016. Retrieved 14 April 2016.
  9. ^ a b Goodfellow, Melanie (24 April 2014). "Wild Bunch unveils first titles on Cannes slate". Screen Daily. Retrieved 24 April 2015.
  10. ^ Père, Olivier (18 February 2014). "Arte France Cinéma coproduit The Red Turtle, premier long métrage d'animation de Michael Dudok de Wit". (in French). Arte. Retrieved 24 April 2015.
  11. ^ "Screenings Guide" (PDF). Cannes Film Festival. Retrieved 15 May 2016.
  12. ^ Goodfellow, Melanie (28 April 2016). "Annecy animation festival unveils 2016 line-up". Screen International. Retrieved 15 May 2016.
  13. ^ "La Tortue rouge". AlloCiné (in French). Retrieved 15 May 2016.
  14. ^ "Studio Ghibli Co-Produced Film The Red Turtle Opens Next September". Anime News Network. 11 December 2015. Retrieved 12 December 2015.
  15. ^ "待望のスタジオジブリ最新作!『レッドタートル ある島の物語』ブルーレイディスク・セット&DVD、3/17(金)発売!|ブルーレイ・DVD・デジタル配信|ディズニー公式".
  16. ^ Ford, Rebecca (19 May 2016). "Cannes: Sony Pictures Classics Takes 'The Red Turtle'". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 26 May 2016.
  17. ^ "The Red Turtle (2015) -Studiocanal UK - Europe's largest distribution studio STUDIOCANAL UK".
  18. ^ "The Red Turtle (La tortue rouge) (2017)". Rotten Tomatoes. Flixster. Retrieved 22 January 2017.
  19. ^ "The Red Turtle Reviews". Metacritic. CBS Interactive. Retrieved 27 November 2016.
  20. ^ "Studio Ghibli's New Movie Isn't Doing Well In Japan". Kotaku. Brian Ashcraft. 27 September 2016. Retrieved 23 September 2017.
  21. ^ Nordyke, Kimberly (24 January 2017). "Oscars: 'La La Land' Ties Record With 14 Nominations". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 24 January 2017.[dead link]
  22. ^ "Oscar Nominations: Complete List". Variety. 24 January 2017. Retrieved 24 January 2017.
  23. ^ "44th Annie Award Nominees". International Animated Film Society. 28 November 2016. Retrieved 29 November 2016.
  24. ^ "The 2016 Chicago Film Critics Association Award Nominees". Chicago Film Critics Association. 11 December 2016. Retrieved 12 December 2016.
  25. ^ "Critics' Choice Awards Timeline". Critics' Choice Awards. Retrieved 26 July 2021.
  26. ^ "42nd Annual Los Angeles Film Critics Association Awards 2016 Winners". Los Angeles Film Critics Association. 4 December 2016. Retrieved 5 December 2016.
  27. ^ "Magritte du Cinéma: "Les premiers les derniers" et "Keeper" sont favoris". La Libre Belgique (in French). 10 January 2017. Retrieved 10 January 2017.
  28. ^ "20th Annual Online Film Critics Society Awards Nominations". Online Film Critics Society. 27 December 2016. Retrieved 27 December 2016.
  29. ^ Flores, Marshall (9 December 2016). "San Francisco Film Critics Circle Nominations!". Retrieved 10 December 2016.
  30. ^ Nordyke, Kimberly (12 December 2016). "'Moonlight' Named Best Picture by San Francisco Film Critics Circle". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 12 December 2016.
  31. ^ Kilday, Gregg (29 November 2016). "Satellite Awards Nominees Revealed". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 29 November 2016.
  32. ^ Vlessing, Etan (12 December 2016). "'Moonlight' Named Best Film by Toronto Film Critics". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 12 December 2016.

External links[edit]