Dark animation: ‘Ratatouille’
by Payton Pruitt
Disney is not often known for exceptionally dark works of animation, but they are certainly becoming more and more adult, and Disney’s “Ratatouille” is a sign of that maturity growing within their regular movies.
The film’s set up is pretty simple, giving the story of a rat named Remy with a love of cooking, even though he knows his chances of becoming a chef are slim to none. He manages to find his way into Paris, at a famous restaurant that belonged to his departed cooking idol. When there, he tries to fix a dish that had been ruined by a clumsy new employee and gets caught.
The young man takes it away, planning on killing it so he can keep his last chance at a job while also fretting about making the dish that Remy made. They manage to strike a deal, having the rat teach the young man to cook so he can keep his job, and Remy can live his dream. From there, the plot gets many more characters and wonderful stories with one of the best endings I’ve ever seen in a Disney movie.
The entire movie was made by Pixar animation studios, but the film was directed, written, and animated by Brad Bird. You may know his multi-award winning movie titles such as “The Incredibles,” “Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol,” and “The Iron Giant.” His work shows in the design of the characters, while they are in the tradition Pixar 3D forms, they look more as if they were drawn on paper, then turned into a computer animation.
However, he doesn’t just make them look good, Bird did his best to include all the characters and give them all fascinating backstories. However, the film only had enough time to focus on Remy and his partner Linguini for the majority, so the others sadly feel a bit left out. However, there is one moment that focuses on the film’s antagonist that only lasts for thirty seconds, but it tells his story perfectly and without any words. Brad Bird has an incredible talent for imagery and storytelling that definitely shows in this particular movie.
The soundtrack was composed by Michael Giacchino, whose work is not unfamiliar to Disney as he composed the soundtracks for “The Incredibles,” “Cars 2” and “Up.” Giacchino’s work is fantastic, the ambience tracks giving the feel of a Parisian café, while also doing an exceptional job at emphasizing the shock, the happiness, and distress that all the characters feel. My favorite track has to be Le Festin by Camille. The song is entirely in French, with a sweet voice singing the lyrics, giving a warm and loving feeling to everyone that listens to it. Imagine being in a Parisian with a warm latte and a sweet pastry, and that’s basically what the song makes you feel.
The film itself is pretty adult. As the story goes on, you can see it touching on a lot of darker subjects, showing the basic cruelty rats face simply for being rats. They are poisoned, trapped, killed, and close to the beginning of the movie they are forced to leave their home because the home owner decides to shoot them with a shot gun rather than call an exterminator. Remy experiences some stress and trauma and the film shows him dealing with it by talking to an imaginary version of his cooking idol repeatedly throughout the movie.
At the same time, the young adults can relate to Linguini’s awkward behavior and general stress as he deals with trying to find a new job and a new life for himself so he can get by.
Through the antagonist, the film even touches on how poverty can be hard on families. However the film’s touching, if not a bit cheesy, message wraps it all up pretty well. It shows everyone that a person is still capable of following their dream, even if it doesn’t go the direction they were hoping it would take.