How important is it to have a dream that can cloud your mind and make all the parts of your body play a symphony just from thinking about it? How strong can we believe in ourselves that all the difficulties on the way seem interesting and manageable? Dreams and goal setting make people feel happy and needed, belonging somewhere significant. One of the major desires of a man is to create something that can make others glad and satisfied. A bright example of such dedication is shown in “Ratatouille,” directed by Brad Bird and Jan Pinkava in 2007. “Ratatouille” is an American computer-animated movie about the refinement of taste of French cuisine. It represents in a funny way a collection of American and French stereotypes and cultural specialties each side has. The cartoon form gives a story incredible lightness and simplicity of intussusception. Oftentimes, we are perceiving information easier and getting to various conclusions when the information submission form is not complicated. Cartoons are also used as representations among children at school of their thinking about different aspects of their life (Wall et al. 213). Acoustics, blocking shape, and color rendering are forming a movie perception of a viewer. For instance, when the father of Remy, the main character, shows his child how cruel humans can be to rats, it was pouring rain, and thunder warningly sounded in the background. Fear of being hanged on the shop window like other rats was taking over Remy, even though, temporally. The magic of red color and all its shades spread all over the image of Anton Ego’s cabinet, a strict and wayward food critic. In the cartoon, he is shown as a man with long thin fingers, pale face, and his body gradually narrows down. When he is negatively surprised about Gusteau’s restaurant success, he looks at Ambrister Minion from upstairs, and the image from downstairs shows Ego even thinner and taller, which conveys his character and current mood. Minion is also drawn as a small man shaking from uncertainty and fear, and this contrast with Ego’s character, plus red color on the background, accurately expresses the moment of anger, impatience, and irritation. Blocking shape engages a viewer into a dangerous atmosphere on the kitchen floor from a rat’s perspective. Rapid movements and camera turn keeps us tensed and frightened for a life of a little creature. All these details summarize in a decent product of cinematography that narrates a fascinating story and gives viewers reasons to think about significant issues. In this paper, I will examine how “Ratatouille” raises questions such as devotion to your dream, family coherence, the problem of admitting the truth, and sincerity that are essential in our everyday life.
Devotion to the dream is one of the major themes raised in the movie that teaches a viewer to believe in himself and never give up when achieving it. Remy was born a rat, and all his family is trying to convince him to stop crossing the borders and stay a garbage animal with low preferences for food taste. However, Remy has a talent, and he is aware of that as his heart keeps leading him into the dangerous conditions of the old woman’s house. There, he is plunged into the atmosphere of various smells and spices, and he can admire, watching TV shows, his idol, chef Gusteau. Remy believes in his talent and success as making food truly makes him happy. Remy’s dad initially seems to be negative about Remy’s dream as he wants to prevent his son from danger and cruel human society. When he asks Remy where he was going after showing the shop window with hanging dead rats, Remy confidently answered: “With luck, forward”. This devotion to the dream encourages the viewer and makes him believe that nothing is impossible in his current life. The influence of other rats, the ability to walk straight, having a gust of taste and smell only inspire Remy to go forward. In the modern world, people are afraid to differ from others, to be black sheep, and to be pointed at. We should fight for ourselves, the disproportional appearance that makes us unique and beautiful, our extraordinary thoughts that lead to innovative achievements and creative decisions. No one else can believe so deeply in us than ourselves, and nothing can shine brighter than the light of confidence coming from inside. According to Filiz Eroğlu and Elçin Bayraktar Köse, the need for uniqueness is associated with innovativeness and creativity (467). Remi’s passion and inspiration from the cooking process follow the whole story, fascinate a viewer, and give a decent example of true devotion to the dream.
Family coherence is one of the central issues raised in the movie that explains how significant the support from family is and how hard to live without it. The main character is brave enough to follow his dream despite the fears of his dad and misunderstandings from the clan. However, Remi says at the end of the story that his heart falls apart as he loves both the family and the kitchen. Emily, Remi’s brother, says once to him: “What do you ‘have to’ more than family? What is more important here?” (Ratatouille). Various studies have proved that firm family relations facilitate job satisfaction. According to Chan et al., family support helps social workers focus on work-related activities fortified by the knowledge that their family supports the necessary sacrifices (5). Remi’s dad’s unacceptance of his dream was mostly because he did not know how much culinary meant for his son. Oftentimes, we think that our relatives do not believe in us; still, all we have to do is to prove the seriousness and the devotion to our goals. Not every human can be supportive and encouraging, but everyone is easily involved in support when they see the achievements and the importance of the case to the other one. That is why it is hard to blame Remi’s dad as his beliefs were formed throughout life, and he has the other perception of the world and rules to live by. The problem of the generation gap is central in our life, and what younger people lack is the initial step to make towards accepting and understanding their parents the way they are. There is no need to fully understand our relatives; most of the time, patience and love are the most looked-for. As our parents were enduring with us learning to walk and speak, the same level of tolerance we should give back when they are getting old. It will always be difficult to live without family support, and saving coherence and firm relations is our major goal.
“Ratatouille” also shows viewers the struggles of admitting the truth and questions whether this action is generally needed in our life. Moral and ethical rules are not punished by law, which means following these principles is a voluntary choice of any human. Each of us understands these laws differently, and sometimes, to choose among several expedient actions the least evil one is also a moral judgment (Thompson 23). Linguini, a garbage man and later an owner of Gusteau’s restaurant, went all this way due to the talent of a little mouse. Even though he has no talent in making food, he is an honest man with an open heart that did not take Remi’s achievements on his account. Confirming the talent of a tiny creature and risking looking like a crazy person in front of all the staff, Linguini made an effort to admit the truth. In real life, people struggle daily with choices like that. Many of us forgot about moral principles as, in a short-term perspective, the one who hit hard usually wins. Nevertheless, it is an illusion of a fast win, and following ethics and goodness will create respect, firm relationships, and better collaboration with other people. Walking all over humans will ricochet one day, and it might be hard to deserve their respect again. Moral suffering, described by Grunebaum et al., is a torturing moment; however, the reality of the problem cannot be denied (152). Facing the problem and admitting the truth takes a special effort and strength. The cartoon teaches us to stick to moral choices and be honest with ourselves and others. Linguini is not humiliated at the end of the story; he is a happy and self-sufficient man living by his principles. How different the world would be if each of us could give a try to behave like him. Facing the truth and accepting your failures is an action of a decent person that deserves respect.
The issue of sincerity is another question the movie gives an opportunity to think of as this pure feeling sometimes can create miracles. Anton Ego is a strict food critic, and it was obvious from the scenes that everyone was afraid of him. With his incredible pedanticism and high demands, Ego’s positive assessment was the reward of his dream. Remi decides to cook ratatouille for the critic, and the first part of the dish’s name is a play of words as it will be cooked by a rat. A simple and easy combination of tastes conquered Ego’s heart because it reminded him of his childhood days when his mother cooked the same dish for him. Soon after, the figure of Ego stops being so strict and frightening. Remi, with his talent, melted the stone heart and found a key to the box covered with dust deep in his soul called sincerity. Finally, Ego felt something truthful, and he seemed alive. In everyday trace, we stop noticing beauty in detail, and we stop being attentive to each other. How many misunderstandings and quarrels could have been avoided if we had been sincere. Not many people know that being honest can save almost any situation as no one can manage to fight an armless man. When you open yourself to the other one, offenses and bad emotions step back. Frequently, we forget to be just us; the same happened with Anton Ego. After he reviewed Gusteau’s restaurant, he was fired as it became publicly known about the rats. However, the narrator says that he did not become poor and sad; he enjoyed his life having a small business. Turns out, Ego’s work did not make him happy even though he was a well-known popular critic. He found himself and remembered how to feel, and at the final scene, we see a kind, cheerful man with a blush on his cheeks, ready to live and to notice every detail. According to Steptoe, happiness encompasses affective well-being such as feelings of joy and pleasure, a sense of meaning and purpose in life, and life satisfaction (1). Sincerity has a magic ability to make a person unrecognizable and truly happy, and all of us should aim to be the same open, true, and happy in life.
Thus, in this paper, I discussed how “Ratatouille”, a wonderful film that narrates a story about the tiny rat, lets a viewer think more attentively about his dreams and values, his relations with family, his perception of truth and sincerity. After watching the movie, I wanted to stop for a second and ask myself what truly is essential in my life, and if I live now, how I always wanted to live. Life is so short, and there is no need to spend it being a grumpy critic. If people realize how to be in the moment, learn to devote themselves to what they faithfully love, be honest with the other ones, life will taste differently. The movie is not only entertainment, but it also raises major issues of human life, shows how close the relations between people and animals can be, and attracts tourists to the French culture and cuisine. All of that unites me to the conclusion that everyone must watch “Ratatouille” at least once, a kind, a positive story with good intentions and sense.
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Eroğlu Filiz, and Elçin Bayraktar Köse. How Much Does Being Unique Cost? International Applied Social Sciences Congress Proceeding Book. Turkey, 2020.
Ratatouille. Directed by Brad Bird, performance by Patton Oswalt, Ian Holm, Lou Romano, Janeane Garofalo, Brad Garrett, Peter O’Toole, Brian Dennehy, Peter Sohn, and Will Arnett, Walt Disney Studios, 2007.
Steptoe, Andrew. “Happiness and health.” Annual Review of Public Health, vol. 40, 2019, pp. 339-359.
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Von Grunebaum, Gustave E., and Roger Caillois, eds. The dream and human societies. University of California Press, 2021.
Wall, Kate, et al. “What Does Learning Look Like? Using Cartoon Story Boards to Investigate Student Perceptions (from 4 to 15) of Learning Something New”. The Canadian Society for Education through Art, 2017, pp. 211-227.