Easily one of our most anticipated animated features of 2016 is “The Red Turtle.” The film is the product of Studio Ghibli’s first external co-production. The Red Turtle is the primary work of Dutch-born, London-based animator Michael Dudok de Wit. The animator’s dialogue-free, Oscar-winning short film “Father and Daughter” made him a favorite at Ghibli. We will talk a bit about the movie’s background shortly, but first please enjoy the stunning trailer for “The Red Turtle.”
The trailer has a lot of details to take in, and I encourage multiple viewings, I’ve now seen it a dozen times myself. The art style is stunning, Michael Dudok de Wit’s hand-drawn, charcoal-based work truly shines. So now that you have had a chance to get a glimpse of it let’s talk about the story behind how this fantastic looking movie came to be.
It would be an understatement to use the word “Legendary” when describing the Japanese animation film studio, Studio Ghibli. The studio has created dozens of beloved, award-winning movies. In fact, I count several of their movies among my all-time favorites. After decades of producing some of the medium’s greatest works, the studio’s two most prolific creators, Hayao Miyazaki, and Isao Takahata have effectively reached the end of their careers.
With that in mind, the studio has spent the last several years trying to gain some creative density. They have made an active effort to foster and promote their younger talent such as Hiromasa Yonebayashi and Goro Miyazaki. Also, they have begun to look outside of the studio for other opportunities. This lead to producer Toshio Suzuki giving the order to track down Michael Dudok de Wit and convince him to make a movie for Studio Ghibli.
Dudok de Wit was caught off-guard by the offer, as he had never intended to make more than animated shorts and commercials. He was convinced no studio would allow him to make an entire feature his way, so he had no interest in it. Studio execs were able to convince him otherwise.
“Right from the beginning, they made it very clear, the film would be made just like they make their own films: a director’s film and the director would have final say,” recalls Dudok de Wit.
So it was the project began, with Pascale Ferran (Lady Chatterley, Bird People) serving as the film’s co-writer, and Wild Bunch, Why Not Productions, Arte France Cinema, CN4 Productions, and Belvision all involved in financing and production. This was all under the watchful eye of Isao Takahata, who served as the film’s artistic producer.
The result of this co-production is the beautiful feature “The Red Turtle”, that will premiere at the Cannes Film Festival this month. We expect it will be loved by critics and non-critics alike. When we have more information about the reaction to the film at the festival, we will make those available to our readers.
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