Wallace & Gromit. Creature Comforts. Chicken Run. Shaun the Sheep. Aardman’s catalogue of animated works is filled with wonderful absurdities that can tug at your heartstrings and, more often than not, charm you into a chuckle or six. Its latest is a short, stark, kick right to the gut—and it needs to be.
Released in collaboration with Greenpeace, Aardman Animation’s Turtle Journey, directed by Gavin Strange, is brief but just incredibly brutal. Evocative of the studios’ Creature Comforts—which took interviews from the general public and then brought them to animated life as the preponderances of animals and pets—the short follows a small family of sea turtles as they make their journey home from a trip to see some relatives.
It’s done in the style of a family roadtrip, from roadwork delays to last-minute scenic route suggestions, games of I-spy and annoying little siblings trapped in a sea-bound car for too long.
But then you see the reasons for all the delays and route changes lingering in the background slowly build up. The short becomes laced with a tension that is released in a moment that is just completely and utterly devastating, and perhaps the closest an Aardman product has come to actual horror. It’s just…well, watch it for yourself.
The starkness is not without merit, and as Polygon notes, it has a cause beyond just shockingly reminding you of the great cost we enable with ocean pollution. The short is attached to a petition for U.S. audiences to reach out to Evan Bloom, the U.S. State Department Director of Ocean and Polar Affairs, to agree to action on the United Nation’s plans for an intragovernmental Global Ocean Treaty. Discussions are set to take place March 23, and if you wish to sign Greenpeace’s call to action, you can do so here.