I’ve recently started working at a new workplace. It sits opposite a spectacular view of the Pacific Ocean. Every day, that view proves invigorating. There’s something indescribably calming about the ocean’s infinity, even when I’m stressed to the gills.
The Red Turtle is perhaps the closest a film has come to capturing that feeling. This Studio Ghibli film from Dutch director Michael Dudok de Wit tells the simple, wordless story of a castaway on a desert island. The castaway’s efforts to escape the island are stymied again and again by a mysterious red turtle.
To synopsise the film is to lessen it, however. It’s a fable of sorts, a metaphor about learning to accept the life we live and recognise our own limitations. But it’s imbued with the resonant power of a creation myth, thanks to the simple yet expressive animation, the naturalistic sound effects, the swell of the vast ocean.
The Red Turtle might disappoint those expecting a fantastical adventure à la Miyazaki. For reasons I don’t fully understand, it sung with my heart. Its message may be familiar, even simplistic, yet the film’s meditative rhythm taps into a holistic harmony that rhymes with the tranquillity of the ocean.