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In Depth: How Ratatouille Inspired Me To Fulfill My Dreams

Anniversary, Brad Bird, Opinion Piece, Ratatouille

Posted by Nia • June 29, 2017

Today is the 10 year anniversary of Pixar’s Ratatouille. It’s hard to believe it’s been that long since we were last in Paris, learning how to cook alongside Remy, the rat, and Linguini, the garbage boy. Not to mention following them on their escapades through the city as they tried to covertly work together at one of the most famed Parisian restaurants.

For most of us, less culinary experienced food-lovers, it was a thrill to watch Remy create such tempting and savory dishes on the big screen. We almost forgot it was in fact an animated film and a rat was responsible for all of the colorful foods – creating unique dishes that would make even Gordon Ramsay stop in his tracks (after all, his signature dish did bring Anton Ego right back to his childhood). I was almost disappointed to find there are no rats who knew how to cook in real life or a little restaurant hidden in Paris that’s run by them. I won’t lie and say that after I watched the film for the first time, little 15-year-old me wanted to enroll in a cooking class and learn how to make food as well as Gusteau.

When the film was released, I’d just finished my freshman year of high school. There was a lot I had yet to experience in life: high school bullies, college rejection letters, heartbreak, and the cruel world of adulthood. I didn’t realize it at first, but in my worst moments, when I was doubting myself and my potential in life, the themes in Ratatouille kept me going and believing in myself.

When you look at the entirety of Ratatouille, it really is a simple film at heart. It’s about a rat, who’s always had a fascination for food and its flavors, and has always dreamed of becoming a cook. He never thought in a million years he would be cooking at Gusteau’s in Paris – the only person who truly understood him and kept him company was Gusteau himself, a figment of his imagination; giving him food tips and overall confidence boosts. It was even Gusteau who said that anyone can cook. Remy’s family didn’t really understand his love for human food, they wanted Remy to be apart of their rat civilization and way of living. But Remy always had that dream, the passion burning inside him, he never forgot about what motivated him every day; to do what truly makes him happy, even if other people doubted him or thought it was the wrong thing to do.

“Not everyone can become a great artist, but a great artist can come from anywhere.”

This quote that Anton Ego delivers at the end of the film is pinned up to my desk at work. It’s a nice reminder every day to believe in yourself, even if others don’t or even if you come from a less privileged background. I’m thankful for this quote and the meaning it’s given my life. It’s one of the most important quotes in any Pixar film and probably any animated film released in the last 10 years. It’s the type of message that’s needed, especially today; not only for children, but for adults with hidden passions or who are still struggling to fulfill their own dreams.

Looking back at Ratatouille, it’s truly taught me that it’s never too late to run after my passion; to keep going, never stop, even if it seems impossible. Since I was a child, I’ve always wanted to work in the animation industry and tell stories. When I was in college I struggled to get internships and gain experience to one day land me a job at any big studio. When I graduated, I worked the odd job here and there to save money and to get me to Los Angeles. Almost two years ago I finally landed a job at a small animation studio. There’s still so much I have yet to learn, and so much I still want to do, but it’s landing that first job in the animation industry that made my heart want to burst. And I realized then, it’s all true – anyone can cook, or paint, or write. It doesn’t matter where you come from, or what experiences you don’t have; what’s important is that you have equal potential and you’ll end up where you’re supposed to be in the end.

In short, Ratatouille is undoubtedly one of Pixar’s most charming and unique films. Like the themes that carry on throughout Up, Monsters Inc., The Incredibles, Finding Nemo, and most recently, Cars 3; the studio continues to share worthwhile lessons to children and adults alike.

Here’s to the next 10 years of inspiration and chasing after your dreams.

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In Depth: Brave’s 5th Anniversary and what it means to a Scottish person

Brave, Pixar

Posted by Joanna • June 22, 2017

In 2009, I saw Up in cinemas for the first time, and I left thinking I had just seen the best movie of my life. As soon as I got home that night, I googled Pixar to find out what movies they had in their pipeline, and when I saw they were making a movie set in Scotland, my heart leapt. Mainly with joy. But there was a little bit of worry in there too.

I have always lived in Scotland, and have seen my fair share of movies attempting to portray the country I have grown up in. These movies are riddled with horrible attempts at Scottish accents, actors that have no connection to the country at all, and scenery that wasn’t even filmed on location. They rely on blatant stereotypes and, at best, only skim the surface of what Scotland is really like. So after learning about the production of Brave, I was unsurprisingly cautious, at least until I grew to understand and appreciate Pixar and their values.

Pixar do their research. They made Paris feel real in Ratatouille, they took lessons in ichthyology for Finding Nemo, and they even worked out how many balloons it would take to lift Carl and Ellie’s house in Up (…then took some leniencies). For the creation of Brave, Pixar teams visited Scotland, sketched castles, and went walking in the highlands. They studied the scenery and foliage and experienced our weather and culture first-hand. The end result? Out of all the American movies I have seen, Brave did the absolute best job at capturing Scotland and its scenery, lighting, colours, people, and accents. They hired Scottish actors and learned from them, allowing them to really contribute to the movie. In an interview with Kevin McKidd, the voice of both Lord MacGuffin and Young MacGuffin, Pixar suggested he make Young MacGuffin have a particularly broad accent; almost incomprehensible. But instead of just spewing Scottish-sounding gibberish, McKidd proposed he did “a dialect from my home area, called the Doric, which is a very specific area in the north-east of Scotland.” This resulted in a joke that was funny for viewers in America, but hilarious for viewers in Scotland. It’s genius. Being from the north-east of Scotland myself, I have grown up with the Doric accent around me, and even I struggle to understand it without context (although I do understand all of Young MacGuffin’s lines!) It’s little touches and inside jokes like this that make Brave a film that Scottish people are proud to be associated with.

© Steve Pilcher

Even on the day it came out, Brave created a sense of community and pride across the country. It was released in cinemas a day earlier in Scotland than in the rest of the UK, and I saw it in a makeshift cinema that my village hall put on for the night – mismatched seats and a projector screen. The scenery was breath-taking, and you felt you could almost recognise some places because the attention to detail was so perfect. When Young MacGuffin said his first line, people turned to each other with huge grins on their faces. We were in hysterics. Even the ‘obvious’ jokes (that had to be done) were done completely tastefully.

It’s so refreshing to have a movie that depicts Scotland with such accuracy and respect. We don’t have bears, of course, but…leniencies. Animation allows leniencies. And on top of all of that, Brave is a wonderful movie with a beautiful message and strong, memorable characters. Merida will always be my favourite ‘Disney Princess’.

Pixar places so much importance on being able to transport you to these different worlds and settings that they create and imitate. They fully appreciate how crucial it is to know these worlds themselves before they’re able to make us believe that we know them too. Coco debuts this November, and I can’t wait for the people of Mexico to feel the way I did when Brave was released 5 years ago. Happy 5th anniversary, Brave!

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