#6 – Paris
I’ve never been to Paris, France. It remains, in my mind, a city to which I hold no true personal experience, and as a result it might be hard to connect myself with it in any form. However, Pixar’s Ratatouille does something absolutely fascinating that no animated film has done to the same degree. With an exquisite sense of detail, the design, production and lighting teams at Pixar have created a Paris that captures the rolling fog, the glowing lights, the blazing sun and the gorgeous French atmosphere of the city of light. It is a recreation that makes you feel as if you’ve seen the sights, smelled the smells, experienced the experiences. And that recreation of Paris is Reason #6 you should see ‘Ratatouille’.
What I love about the recreation of Paris is that it just doesn’t exist at the macro level: we get the gorgeous shots above that evoke the brilliance of the lights at dusk, but then you also get the smaller set pieces that still evoke the same flair. A mad dash through the streets brings little touches of scenery that pop off the screen, and even the alleyways have a gorgeous texture to them. Pixar has brought life to Paris in a way that no other setting in a Pixar film has seen: while Finding Nemo’s ocean was an incredibly strong accomplishment, and The Incredibles certainly had its lush jungle setting, no Pixar setting has been so alive with culture and history, people and places.
When the film opens, its first shot of non-archival material (You’ll see what I mean) is of a house in the country. It is colourful, bright, gorgeous. You fall in love with the country in that one shot, and when Remy ends up in the city you are first taken aback at its foreign qualities. And then, through the magic of Pixar’s Paris, you’re immediately welcomed back into the fold. Paris becomes familiar, warm, inviting. While we may not visit Paris ourselves, we feel as if we have after we take a trip into the world of Ratatouille. Much as Remy is experiencing this all for the first time, so are we: as a result, what could be foreign territory is instead the most complete and engrossing setting in a Pixar film yet. And it’s yet another reason you should see ‘Ratatouille’.