Tuesday, December 11, 2007

A Few of Your Favorite Things: A Critic's Revelation

When the curmudgeonly food critic in Ratatouille, Anton Ego, takes his first bite of the film's eponymous dish, drops his pen, and experiences a Proustian flashback to his childhood in rural France (shades of Kane's Rosebud, but let's not go into that here), we the viewers are given indisputable proof that the rat hero of the film has created the ideal art work -- eminently public and profoundly private. Profound seems the apt word here in so many senses. At first bite of the ratatouille, the critic is sent deep within his memory. He rediscovers a sense of himself we are given to believe he has lost, the kernel of himself, something authentic, around which so many layers of life have accrued that he can no longer access it. Until he tastes the ratatouille, which does something to him that only the best works of art can do to anyone--it quite literally changes his mind.

--Sarah Douglas


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