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Turtle Odyssey

Movie review by
Renee Schonfeld, Common Sense Media
Turtle Odyssey Movie Poster Image
Docu thoughtfully shows life, travels of a green sea turtle.
  • NR
  • 2019
  • 45 minutes

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Educational Value

Filled with information about the green sea turtle: her life's journey, place in the food chain, habitats, predators, instinctive behavior. Comments upon the current fragility of the ocean's creatures, human's impact.  

Positive Role Models & Representations

The central sea turtle, "Bunji" has relatable character traits, i.e., courage, perseverance, positive instinctive behavior. 

Violence & Scariness

Bunji confronts predators and life-threatening situations, accompanied by suspenseful, sometimes dark music. 

Sexy Stuff
Language
Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Turtle Odyssey, narrated by Russell Crowe, is a beautifully-shot documentary about "Bunji,"a female green sea turtle whose habitat is the Great Barrier Reef and whose travels take her hundreds of miles across the Pacific Ocean. Released originally in IMAX theaters, the 45-minute movie covers the first 25 years of Bunji's life. The turtle's story is simply told and filled with family-friendly facts, as well as positive messages about the importance and fragility of the ecosystem. Viewers can expect some mildly suspenseful scenes accompanied by dark or eerie music when Bunji is in danger; these sequences could frighten very young or very sensitive kids. However, there are no unpleasant visuals of predatory behavior.    

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What's the story?

Bunji, a green sea turtle, is one of more than a hundred hatchlings born to a mother turtle on a sandy Australian beach in TURTLE ODYSSEY. The last of the hatchlings to leave her birthplace, she makes a courageous run for the ocean, small, alone, and outmaneuvering predatory birds and ghost crabs to enter the water. It's there that this new life begins as Bunji instinctively finds food and makes her way through the coral reef. Over the following years, Bunji will journey far from her early home, a solo traveler who meets both friends and foes, and survives as an essential part of the biosphere. As the narrator (Russell Crowe) reminds, "If we lose the turtle, there's no earth, no us." After more than two decades, she returns to the reef from which she first emerged, finds a "suitable" mate, then a special place to burrow in the sand at the water's edge. Now, Bunji's maternal instincts take over, and new hatchlings begin their journey to the sea.

Is it any good?

Amiable storytelling gives life to a green sea turtle, and provides a wonderful introduction to her species, ocean habitat, and the value of mindfulness regarding earth's vulnerable creatures. The photography is stunning, and the fact that the filmmakers have given their central creature-character a personality and gone on a decades-long adventure with "her" (it appears to be the same turtle throughout, though we know that's impossible ), is a rewarding way to deliver information to audiences (especially kids), and to inspire concern for survival of sea turtles, who in Turtle Odyssey represent all of nature.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how much kids (and adults) can learn from documentary movies, and be entertained as well. Which of the following documentary category or categories best describes Turtle Odyssey? To entertain? To inspire? To inform? To persuade?

  • How did the movie best illustrate the fact that humans are the biggest threat to Bunji's survival? 

  • Find out the meaning of the term "symbiotic relationship." Describe the symbiotic relationship between the sea salp, the green sea turtle, and the sea cow. Can you think of other symbiotic relationships in nature?

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