Parents' Guide to

The Red Turtle

By Sandie Angulo Chen, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 8+

Beautiful word-free drama about castaway who finds love.

Movie PG 2017 80 minutes
The Red Turtle Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this movie.

Community Reviews

age 9+

Based on 7 parent reviews

age 7+

Poetic, lovely film

First of all, this film may not be for every parent... my hubby “didn’t get it”. But my kids really liked it (boys, ages 7 and 9), and have the taste for your typical Pixar action/cartoon blockbuster. Which is exactly why I picked this movie and watched it with them. It’s a slow, poetic and completely dialogue-free story of a man living on a deserted island, and the imaginative gift he receives from the sea (a woman, emerged from a sea turtle that he has killed). We paused the movie often to talk about what the man and the woman (and eventually their child) might be communicating in the subtle body language, eyes, and other imagery in the movie. It was a bit intense at times (a tsunami, the raft being destroyed by an unknown animal under the sea), but it was so rich with subtle story-telling, and I felt it gave me an opportunity to talk about feelings and overcoming struggles and fears. My boys soaked it up. If you’re planning to chat-it-up with the adults in the kitchen while your kids are locked in the play room with the DVR, skip this movie. If you’re feeling engaged and receptive, and the kids are up for trying something new, I think most families would love this movie.
age 2+

Great for curious children and engaged parents

We don’t typically let our 2 year old daughter watch films, so I was interested in finding something that doesn’t constantly flash to different scenes. This is a slow, beautiful animation with zero dialogue and a wonderful soundtrack. There is one scene that is violent against a turtle, but my daughter immediately said “no no don’t do that”, and we discussed that the man had done a bad thing. It’s helpful to discuss what’s going on throughout the movie, and to ask a lot of questions to keep a very young child engaged in understanding and learning. There isn’t a clear over arching relatable narrative, but the value is in the slow emotive moments that a child can understand and discuss.

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say (7 ):
Kids say (4 ):

Gorgeously animated, this wordless story about a stranded castaway pays tribute to what's most important in life: companionship, love, family, and the stewardship of nature. The man on the island starts off like Tom Hanks in Cast Away, desperate to get off the island. But unlike other stories about shipwrecked heroes, this main character loses his compulsion to escape once a companion magically appears. At that point, the island, like the turtle, transforms from something frightening and even predatory into something beautiful and welcoming -- a home instead of a prison.

It's clear why director Michael Dudok de Wit managed to impress Studio Ghibli into producing his debut feature. Yes, it's wordless (although there are plenty of little groans, grunts, and sounds), but it's still incredibly expressive. The animation is stunning: The evocative expressions on the three characters' faces, the vivid seascape, and the tiny gestures the humans make toward one another and the sea creatures that share their island home are all lovely. The final third of The Red Turtle will resonate especially well with parents, as they witness the inevitable way the son wants to launch out on his own. Some viewers may fixate on the magical realist way the turtle the man killed became the woman he loved for the rest of his life, but it's actually a fitting tribute to how love can grow out of even the bleakest of circumstances.

Movie Details

Did we miss something on diversity?

Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.

See how we rate