The Red Turtle

Synopsis: A massive sea turtle destroys a stranded man's raft every time he tries to sail away from a tropical island.
Production: Studio Ghibli
  Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 11 wins & 32 nominations.
Rotten Tomatoes:
80 min

Part I. The man alone.

I.0. The storm.

On the ocean, far out at sea, a storm rages.

A man is there on his own, in the middle of the waves.

A gigantic wave carries him away. He sinks, then reappears near a barrel

which he clings on to.

Later, he spots an overturned lifeboat which he struggles over to. Night falls.

The man is suddenly woken by a wave which is bigger than the others and

which shatters his boat.

The man is washed up on a beach. He's saved.

I.1. Exploration of the island and its beauty. His survival is ensured.

It's the first day on the island.

The man has fallen asleep on the beach.

His foot is lying on the sand, motionless.

A crab nips it.

The man wakes up with a start, jumps to his feet, and looks around.

The beach seems to stretch to either end of the island.

Day has broken and the sun is bright.

The man sees something a bit further away. He starts running along the

shore. But what he took to be a human body is only a rock, half-buried under

the sand.

He has reached the far end of the beach.

He continues his exploration by the rocks when a noise makes him jump. It's

a seal sitting on a rock below. The animal dives. The man starts walking


He enters some thick bushes and walks among the close branches of a forest

of bamboo trees. A bird flies away as he goes past. The man sees some

water caught in some leaves on the ground and kneels down to drink it.

Then, again, he is alerted by a noise, a presence. He picks up a branch to

use as a weapon. But it's just the rain. A sudden downpour.

The man carries on walking among the bamboo trees. He climbs a hill which

takes him to the highest point of the island. It's a hillock, an overhanging

rock from where he can see both sides of the island.

The island isn't very big. It's welcoming with its luxuriant vegetation, but it

seems deserted. No sign anywhere of any human presence. The man calls

out from the top of the hillock, but there's no reply.

The man has started walking the other way, among the bamboo trees.

There's a gap a bit further on. A clearing? The man goes over to it. It's a

waterhole, a little pond, hemmed in by vegetation. Fresh water.

The man dives in and drinks, the water up to his ears.

Just then, he sees something: a tree, fruit, a breadfruit tree. He climbs up the

tree, knocks some fruit down, and eats his fill.

Through the tall foliage, three birds fly past in the clouds.

Fade to black.

I.2. The island and its dangers. The desire to leave.

Another day.

The man climbs over some rocks to explore the other side of the island.

He jumps in midair between two rocks.

He has reached the far end of the island and looks around him.

There is a barrel in the sea below, the remains of a shipwreck.

He turns back to go down to terra firma, but his foot slips. He slides along

the rock, trying in vain to stop himself, and falls from a dizzy height. He lands

in a waterhole between two steep rocks. Impossible to climb back up. The

rock is too smooth, and the incline is too sheer.

The man tries his luck by the sea.

He plunges under the water and soon discovers that there is no way through

there either:
an almost horizontal rock seems to block his way between the

two rocks.

He goes back to the surface and looks around for another way-out, but to no


He goes back under the water and risks his all. He dives into the tight

passageway between the rocks. The gulley is narrow and it looks like the

man might get stuck, unable to get past the obstacle or to get back. He'll

soon run out of oxygen...

But the man's hand appears on the other side, then his whole body.

The man races to the surface and hoists himself up onto a flat rock. Safe and


Birds fly past in the sky.

The man swims behind the barrel.

He picks it up and brings it back to the beach, but the barrel smashes into a

thousand pieces. The man is vexed.

As he looks at the horizon, another idea comes into his head.

He heads into the forest, starts to pick up bamboo sticks and brings them

back to the beach.

Night falls.

The man lies down on the sand. It's been a long day.

A tiny turtle appears on the sand.

The man picks it up, looks at it closely, then puts it down again.

The baby turtle scurries toward the sea. Just then, another and another, then

soon myriad baby turtles hatch in the sand. They all rush toward the sea

which sparkles in the moonlight.

It is an epic race. The sea is nearby, but they still have to reach it, and the

babies are tiny. The man watches their race until the last baby turtle

disappears into the waves.

He remains alone, facing the endless ocean.

How he too would love to leave.

The man, who had fallen asleep on the beach, wakes up in the middle of the

night, as if gripped by a strange feeling. There's something on the water. He

hurries over to it. It's a bridge. A huge bridge made of bamboo on piles which

seems to stretch right across the ocean.

The man runs onto the bridge, dancing for joy. He races away.

When he wakes up on the beach, the sea is dead calm, a vast, glassy

expanse of water.

It was just a dream. The man peers at the horizon, then lies down again, sad

and alone.

Fade to black

I.3. First attempts to leave on a raft. Foiled by an unknown


Rate this script:5.0 / 1 vote

Michaël Dudok de Wit

Michaël Dudok de Wit is a Dutch animator, director and illustrator based in London. He won an Academy Award for Best Animated Short Film for Father and Daughter and was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Animated Feature for The Red Turtle. more…

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Submitted by acronimous on November 28, 2017

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