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Ratatouille‘s Sense of Taste, of Place

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Ratatouille’s Sense of Taste, of Place

—It starts with a book.

A couple years ago I wrote a comparison review pitching Satoshi Kon’s Paprika as, if not an answer to, then a conversant partner with Brad Bird’s Ratatouille. You can click right here and read it. Watching the film again while preparing the image-essay to follow, I was struck by a few things in my new, two-years-later (more conceptually refined?) toolkit: (1) this isn’t simply a movie about animation and imagination (though those are big), at bottom it’s a movie about taste; and (2) that investigating taste, say evaluation, is a project of intentionality—seeing how the mind is directed at objects, and how those tastes were formed. That is, it’s about the delight, and the impact, of memory—as a weight, in the body, in the present. Then, what’s really cool is that Bird animates those thought processes in thrilling ways: Remy’s dreams of flavor, Ego’s taste bud time-travel home, Linguini’s training. And it’s all given proper scale and space. Bird’s sense of the image, and of mise-en-scene is another element that separates him from the other house (so-called) “stylists” that direct these pictures. You get a real sense of choreography, and weight, in a Bird film. (This makes the still image a reduction, unfortunately, of the film’s fluidity, but every composition—as you’ll see below—crackles.) Bird designs worlds with wit, and renders them willfully cartoony—he favors plastic—but every edit counts towards characterization, towards building a feeling. And he can’t quit his egalitarian stance, which I love. His movies, though focused on “the exceptional,” argue for everybody’s worth. Everybody has a place, a role, a value. The trick—with people, with food, with films, with life—is selection; that is, to have good taste.

I.

 

Pixar Week

 

Pixar Week

—Don’t hurt yourself.

II.

 

Pixar Week

—Brains, or, shrouded celerity

III.

 

Pixar Week

 

Pixar Week

 

Pixar Week

 

Pixar Week

 

Pixar Week

 

Pixar Week

 

Pixar Week

 

Pixar Week

—See with your tongue with your eyes closed, let it detonate

IV.

 

Pixar Week

 

Pixar Week

—We make our friends

V.

 

Pixar Week

—The price of a pellicle, of fur and of fame

VI.

 

Pixar Week

VII.

 

Pixar Week

 

Pixar Week

—He’s a tool

VIII.

 

Pixar Week

 

Pixar Week

—We make a talisman

IX.

 

Pixar Week

—Tiny towering though localized

X.

 

Pixar Week

 

Pixar Week

—Find it: go back, come back, taste everything here

XI.

 

Pixar Week

—Let go, let it fill you

XII.

 

Pixar Week

XIII.

 

Pixar Week

—Not a madeleine

HND Contributing Editor Ryland Walker Knight is the creator and editor of VINYL IS HEAVY. He’s on twitter, too, @rylandwk.

Pixar Week will run October 4—10 at the House. For more information on the event, please see here.