This interview with The Red Turtle director Michael Dudok de Wit was originally published on July, 2016 in the NRC. If you can read Dutch, please head over to NRC.nl to read the interview in its original language. In addition I also highly recommend watching the documentary “Het verlangen van Michael Dudok de Wit“.
‘Loneliness Will Drive You Crazy’
Michael Dudok de Wit’s film ‘The Red Turtle’ for the Japanese animation studio Ghibli was to Cannes’ liking.
July 6, 2016: Why did that enormous red turtle repeatedly destroy the raft that the castaway wanted to use to escape from his tropical island? An island with fresh water, bamboo, fruits and clams, but without any company?
“The man who inspired Robinson Crusoe had suffered greatly. Loneliness will literally drive people crazy,” the 52 year old Dutch animator Michael Dudok de Wit said on the roof terrace of Club Silencio in Cannes. Just now, his first long animation film The Red Turtle was praised, even welcomed with applause by the film press, and won a special jury award.
Surely he kept a turtle as a little boy? Indeed, he smiled. “A beautiful type of loneliness lurks inside a turtle. She shuffles onto the beach on her own, lays eggs and once again disappears in the sea. God knows where she goes. It’s not a social animal, but the swim movements appear very human-like. I don’t want to be too philosophical about it, it’s more of a feeling. The turtle doesn’t let the man return to civilization, but I believe the nature is also our home. I hope that you as the viewer also experiences the same.”
Anyone who sees The Red Turtle understands why the famous Japanese animation studio Ghibli approached Michael Dudok de Wit to direct their first non-Japanese feature film. A gentle, sensitive man. “He hovers a little above the ground,” a colleague said in a documentary that the VPRO broadcast yesterday evening. Ghibli admired his Oscar-winning short film Father and Daughter, and he admired Ghibli. Particularly the work of the 75 year old maestro Hayao Miyazaki.