The Red Turtle, an animated movie without any dialogues is a perfect example of how sometimes words are not needed to send a profound message. The story begins with a man being marooned on an island, pretty much like Castaway or Robinson Crusoe.
Man Vs Nature struggle
He forages in panic and the island nurtures him with fresh water, food and shelter to sustain him. He then tries several times to build a raft so he can leave the island but his efforts are brought to a halt by a huge Red Turtle breaking it each time and forcing him back into the island- to the lap of nature. He reluctantly learns to adapt to the new tranquil life in the mysterious island. But one day when the turtle comes to the shore, he flips her on her shell in rage and the scorching Sun kills her. Here we see a miraculous twist as a woman emerges from the shell much to the joy of the lone castaway. The turtle that once was his tormentor had become his deliverer by giving him a companion.
The delicate balance between man and nature
This allegorical movie is a metaphor for ecological awareness exploring man’s relationship with nature. Nature is always a provider, gifting us with everything we need, but as humans our desires never end and we continue to destroy the very home that gave us life. The man in the movie represents the human race, wandering, frustrated and constantly looking for an escape. Him getting eventually marooned on the island is a wake-up call. The red turtle representing nature as a whole is a silent stop sign- a reminder to pause and breathe.
Sea turtles are ancient survivors of the tree of life but are still are highly threatened by human activity. It makes sense why nature would take the form of a sea turtle given how they symbolize nobility, wisdom, peace, strength and creativity, everything and more that nature is. No matter how forward the human race progresses, our survival depends on nature and this is depicted in the way the Red Turtle controls his destiny. It seems cruel at first through man’s limited vision. But in the act of destroying the rafts he builds; she ensures he is safe and secures his life on the island, stopping him from mindless and unconscious living Nature is giving and compassionate and eventually when the man ruthlessly kills the Red Turtle, she sacrifices herself to give him what he needed most- a companion. The man goes on to build his life on the island with his wife and once again learns to handle nature with care.
The movie, while environmental also gives deep insight into human behaviour. It helps us understand that the only way to tap into the untouched power of nature and even ourselves is to live in harmony with the environment, nurturing it with tender care- making our time and contribution while on the bearer of life worthwhile.
This visual metaphor brings out the deepest realizations- the inevitability of life and death, a sense of grief for our insensitivity towards nature and great love for the selflessness and purity she holds.
My rating for this animated movie laden with symbolism: