Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||John Irvin|
|Produced by||Richard Johnson
Bernard Sofronski (Executive Producer)
|Written by||Russell Hoban (novel)
Harold Pinter (screenplay)
|Music by||Geoffrey Burgon|
|Edited by||Peter Tanner|
|Distributed by||The Samuel Goldwyn Company|
Turtle Diary is a 1985 British film about "people rediscovering the joys of life and love," based on a screenplay adapted by Harold Pinter from Russell Hoban's novel Turtle Diary, directed by John Irvin, and starring Glenda Jackson, Ben Kingsley, and Michael Gambon. The film contains elements of romance, comedy, and drama and has been described as a romantic comedy.
Two lonely Londoners - Neaera Duncan, a children's author (Glenda Jackson), and William Snow, a bookstore assistant (Ben Kingsley) - find common ground when visiting the sea turtles at London Zoo; independently of each other, both perceive that the turtles are unnaturally confined, and they hatch a plan with the assistance of zookeeper George Fairbairn (Michael Gambon) to smuggle them out and release them into the sea, which they ultimately succeed in accomplishing. Their release of the turtles represents metaphorically their release of themselves from their own inhibitions.
- Glenda Jackson, as Neaera Duncan, a "Popular children's author … fearing her creative talents have evaporated, [who] escapes into the dreamy world of sea turtles seeking inspiration in their beauty and grace."
- Ben Kingsley, as William Snow, "a humble assistant in a bookstore where he, too, dreams of the turtles."
- Richard Johnson, as Mr. Johnson, a neighbor of Neaera Duncan
- Michael Gambon, as George Fairbairn, the zookeeper charged with caring for the turtles
- Jeroen Krabbé, as Mr. Sandor, a neighbor of William Snow
- Rosemary Leach, as Mrs. Charlie Inchcliff, another neighbor of Neaera Duncan
- Eleanor Bron, as Miss Neap, a neighbor of William Snow
- Harriet Walter, as Harriet Simms, a colleague of William Snow at the bookstore
- Nigel Hawthorne, as the Publisher of books by Neaera Snow
Critical reception and analysis
In his 1985 Sunday Telegraph review of the film, Castell observes that Pinter's screenplay concentrates on developing dialogue and plot, leaving clues for the actors to convey their characters' subtle emotional and psychological development: "It is hard to think of two actors better matched to play Pinter than Glenda Jackson and Ben Kingsley. They milk every nuance, point up every missed beat and relish each irony and repetition in the script. … Turtle Diary is a fine film that charts movingly the unnoticed despair of everyday lives, the sufferings of those who endure loneliness in silence."
The film grossed $2.2 million in its U.S. theatrical release.
The film was released on videocassette in 1986 by Vestron Video. The film has not yet been released on DVD.
- David Castell (1985-12-01). "Review of Turtle Diary" (Web). Sunday Telegraph. HaroldPinter.org. Retrieved 2009-03-22.
- "Turtle Diary (1985)(VHS): Editorial reviews: Product Description" (Web). Amazon.com. Retrieved 2009-04-06.
Critically hailed as a mini-masterpiece, TURTLE DIARY is the enchanting film of people rediscovering the joys of life and love. … Outside of their chance meetings at the aquarium, they have little in common, but an inspiration to free the captive turtles starts a bond that gives their lives a new outlook. The 'turtlenappers' are about to set their own spirits free.
- Castell, David. Review of Turtle Diary. Sunday Telegraph 1 Dec. 1985. Rpt. in HaroldPinter.org. Harold Pinter, 2000–2003 . Accessed 22 March 2009.