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Michael Dudok de Wit about The Red Turtle: ‘I’m extremely sensitive to scent and sound.’

Published 5 Jul 2016 at 13:38 by Inez de Coo

Dutch director Michael Dudok de Wit won an Oscar for his animation short Father and Daughter. Now, under the header of legendary Japanese Studio Ghibli, de Wit has produced his first long animation film, The Red Turtle. The movie was selected for Cannes Film Festival’s Un Certain Regard programme, and won the Special Prize. The dialogue-free movie tells the tale of a man who finds himself surviving on a deserted island after a shipwreck. Everything changes after he encounters a mysterious turtle.

We had the opportunity to talk to Michael Dudok de Wit, to ask him a few questions buzzing around in our mind.

This movie is not only about images, the film stimulates your sense of hearing and touch. How did you do that?

“The film is very sensory and even sensual. For example, a few scenes when we target the viewer’s view on the protagonist’s hand. This what he feels. Just like how you feel, how we all feel. I wanted to express that in the movie. I’m extremely sensitive for scent, sound and the things I see.”

Do you think this stems from the fact that the animation film was originally a drawing, with a tangible existence?

“I don’t know if the sensory aspect is because of the animation. But there is an element of compensation. There are things that can easily be filmed, but can’t be done in animation. For example, the hundreds of small and subtle messages we express in our face. If you watch a movie, you watch faces. That’s the real advantage of life action, a grand zoom. A face doesn’t need to say anything, but you can read a lot into it. As an animator, you can’t depict that level of complexity. There are so many things that we’re not aware of. I think that’s was animation misses, but you compensate by giving the body lots of expression.”



We Are Public members can attend The Red Turtle at eye between 14 July and 21 July.

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