Thursday, 9 June 2016

The Lovable Rat

-Brian Mendonça

Would you like rats in your kitchen? Then you have not seen Ratatouille.  The Walt Disney animation film is a charming story of how Alfredo a young worker in a restaurant befriends a lovable rat named Remy who bails him out – and even leads him to his lady love Colette!

On the surface it is a movie for children. But there is much to learn for anyone.  Kids have no problem if rats speak or knives dance. It is with a sense of wonderment that they see the world. There is that effortless willing suspension of disbelief which Coleridge spoke about and which is so necessary to a fertile imagination.

Remy is determined to believe that all humans cannot be bad – a notion which his father Django and his clan are at pains to remove.  In one of the darker moments of the film he takes his son to a display of rat traps with various kinds of rats caught in the clamps. Belief in one’s ideals is what makes a person stand out. So you are hoping against all odds that this noble perception will not be belied.

To begin with, the young novice has to own up that the delicious meals he dishes up are not his concoction but the genius of a rat. This particular rat resides under his chef’s hat and literally tears his hair. Viewers are made to believe that pulling certain combinations of tufts of hair stimulate certain areas of the brain to produce specific responses or articulations.

The subplot of Ratatouille  (2007) which is the name of a posh restaurant in Paris – is that the neophyte is actually heir to the elite restaurant, though he does not know it. The scheming present owner Linguini wants to cheat him of his inheritance and employs a detective to trace his progeny. The will is also discovered by Remy, who makes off with it along the balustrades of Paris with the owner in hot pursuit.

The ante is upped when Egon the severest food critic announces that he is going to visit the restaurant. Wont to queer the pitch, Egon asks the waiter, ‘Get me some perspective.’ What the young lad serves up with the Remy’s help, transports Egon back to his childhood and the taste of his mother’s cooking. His rave review helps Ratatouille  to get back into business – but he still has to win the affection of his lady love – a Latin American-sounding femme fatale.

What is heartening is the bonhomie between rats and humans. Much like the lion and the mouse each helps the other.  Animation films like these for kids help humanize us. It is amazing how animation movies grip the attention of the young and old alike. Beauty and the Beast, The Little Mermaid, Frozen, Cinderella, Shrek, Madagascar and Up all have their fan following. Jungle Book is now in 3-dimension. Directed by Brad Bird and Jan Pinkava, Ratatouille will change the way you look at rats.
Published in Gomantak Times Weekender, St. Inez, Goa on Sunday, May 22, 2016. Pix courtesy disneystore. 

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