- Composed by Laurent Perez del Mar
- Quartet Records / 2016 / 48m
A French animation produced in collaboration with Japan’s famed Studio Ghibli, La Tortue Rouge (The Red Turtle) tells the story of a man stranded on a desert island and his battle with a giant turtle as he tries to escape it. Michaël Dudok de Wit’s film received no shortage of acclaim when it premièred at Cannes and will be getting international releases through the remainder of the year. Entirely dialogue-free, the film relies heavily upon its score which is one of those lovely surprises that comes along every once in a while. Laurent Perez del Mar’s multifaceted music is quite delightful, one of the scores of the year so far without doubt. The main ideas are presented in consecutive tracks through the first half of the album and then explored further in the second. “Love in the Sky” features a beautiful Morricone-style wordless soprano along with some impressionistic sounds which join the more traditional orchestra, which then gets its own chance to shine in the soaring “Flying with the Turtles”, unabashedly romantic and rapturous. In “The Girl” there’s a hint of James Horner in the simple little repeated motif for ethnic flute, accompanied by a beautiful violin solo and some exotic plucked and hammered strings – it really is quite lovely.
“The Tsunami” is incredibly dramatic, the vocal soloist now accompanied by the full force of the orchestra; as the storm dies down there is an eerie calm to the piece’s second half, desolation and fear. But then in “White Hair” hope springs again, Debussian strings floating effortlessly through the air. “She is Dead” packs (perhaps not surprisingly) quite an emotional punch, both the glassy strings and the returning vocalist. “The Baby” is playful, joyful, exuberant. There are some darker moments – the opening of “Baby’s Fall” could actually come from a Hitchcock thriller (but it soon lightens). Near the album’s end “He Has to Go” is a dreamy, hypnotic cue, totally captivating. There’s an awful lot to like in La Tortue Rouge – it’s frequently extremely beautiful, full of emotion, lots is packed in to the album’s 48-minute run time. I was not previously familiar with the French composer but he is clearly very talented and this score is the best surprise of the year so far.