Red Turtle レッドタートル

Red Turtle
Red Turtle

Length :
Mass :

Powers / Weapons

Shape shifting


Red Turtle (2016)

Series // Animation

Sound Effect


During a fierce storm, a man is set adrift. He survives thanks to holding onto a row boat, although that is quickly destroyed by the waves. Among the floating wreckage, he manages to wash ashore on a deserted island.

Surviving off the land, he slowly builds a raft from bamboo. Taking it out to sea, he attempts to sail away. However, the raft is destroyed by an unseen force. Swimming back to the island, he builds a second raft. This too is sailed into the waters, but also suffers the same fate from a mysterious force. Frustrated, and after some soul searching about the events, the man builds a third raft on the island. As before, he sails out, more cautious than ever. This time he comes face-to-face with the mysterious source: a giant, crimson red turtle. The creature seems slow at first, but then quickly destroys this raft as well. Fearing for his safety, the man, submerged in the water, curls into a ball. The Red Turtle quickly approaches him, but leaves him unharmed, eventually swimming away.

Red TurtleFurious, the man retreats back to the island. Upon returning, he goes into a rage. That evening, the Red Turtle crawls ashore, the man witnessing this from a distance. Seething with fury, he rushes to meet the creature and assaults it with a large piece of bamboo. Although landing several strikes to the turtle's cranium, the creature appears to be okay, although slowly tries to retreat. The man, however, pushes the turtle onto its back. Fruitlessly, the creature flails trying to turn back over, but is stuck. Leaving the creature to die on its back, the man begins to build a fourth raft. The next day, though, he has a change of heart and feels remorseful about the turtle, who lays motionless. He attempts to turn the Red Turtle back over, but fails due to the weight. Exhausted he falls asleep next to it. Waking up, he is shocked to see a notable split in the Red Turtle's shell and an unconscious woman inside. Overcome with a need to protect her, he builds a shelter for her.

Eventually, rain hits the island and the woman awakes and sneaks off, unnoticed until the man spies the empty shell. Searching the island for her, the man discovers her in the sea. Sensing her hesitance, the man leaves his shirt for her and backs away. Much later, he spies her dragging the empty turtle shell into the water and letting it drift off. He mimics her, pushing the unfinished fourth raft into the water. Eventually, the two come into contact and form a bond.

Much, much later the woman gives birth to a son. They raise him together, until one day he falls into a small cavern. The boy manages to swim to safety, coming across some turtles that he seems to bond with. Although the three live a rather peaceful life, the tranquility of the island is destroyed one day by a tsunami. The disaster sweeps up the man and injures the woman, found bleeding but alive by their son. The boy then swims out, finding his father and rescuing him. However, the disaster completely destroyed the bamboo forest. Gathering the fallen trees, the three set them ablaze, watching the smoke drift into the sky.

As time passes, their child grows up. The parents realize it's time for him to leave, and he swims away with the turtles he befriended, never to be seen again by his parents. Eventually, time catches up with the man and his partner. Now old, the two spend a night on the beach. Unfortunately, the man passes in his sleep. Awaking to this reality, the woman is grief stricken. She lies next to him, holding his hand one last time. She then transforms back into a turtle, slowly making her way to return to the sea.

Powers / Weapons
Shape Shifting

Shape Shifting

The Red Turtle was able to shape shift. The first time this feat was used it took days, as the turtle changed into a woman. This process saw the shell crack and be left behind. Decades later, the creature changed back into a turtle, its shell being whole.

It's unknown if the Red Turtle could change into other shapes besides a human being.

Background and Trivia
  • When in human form, the very brief amount of dialogue and sounds of the Red Turtle were performed by actress Barbara Beretta.
  • On a Q&A after the Toronto International Film Festival, director Michael Dudok de Wit talked about his inspiration for the Red Turtle. He notes that "[Isao] Takahata [director of 1988's Tombstone for Fireflies] sent me a book called Kwaidan, by Lafcadio Hearn [basis for 1965's Kwaidan], which has Japanese traditional fairy tales about transformations of people and animals. Subconsciously I had a story basis... the protagonist wants to go home, the island is not his home. But he can't. Why can't he? I wanted a sea creature to stop him, a shark, etc. Hang on — a turtle. Intuitively, it felt really good. My rational side looked at it a bit later, and the color came later, but at that moment, I thought, 'Not only do we have our main character, but it's probably going to be the name of the film.' So rationally, I can say I needed a mysterious sea creature that gives the impression of being immortal. It's a peaceful animal, non-aggressive, it's solitary, it disappears into infinity, which I find very important in this film. There's something very moving about a turtle leaving where she belongs, the sea, and going on the beach with a lot of effort, digging, laying eggs, filling the pits, and going back. I've seen one doing it — I've seen umpteen video clips. It looks like they can't make it, because it's such an effort. For a moment, they become like us, mammals who breathe, with arms and legs. And then they disappear [into the sea] again, and become part of infinity. So that all clicked together beautifully." The complete Q&A can be found on The Verge.