☆ sophie ☆’s review published on Letterboxd:
Pixar Ranked 👍🏼
*my joints as I stand up after having been sitting down for a while*
symphony of crackle
I'm convinced Emile is the true villain of Ratatouille. He gets in the way of Remy's success twice, and it mostly problematic, but arent all siblings? I dare argue he is worse an Anton Ego - yet Ego has a redemption and life altering moment/arc. That discussion will be saved for another time.
I would first like to point out that the score to Ratatouille easily has the best score for any Pixar film. Michael Giacchino is a god among men and composers, and I dare say this is his masterpiece in terms of compositions. Before I talk about the score, I would like to define what a Leitmotif is for those of you who don't know. It will better help you understand more what I'm talking about. Basically a Leitmotif is a compositional technique frequently and first found in Richard Wagner's operas, where recurring melodies are associated with a person, object, or emotion. This helps the audience draw relationships among characters and events, and therefore providing better flow and cohesion.
Like many film composers, Giacchino has adopted this technique. He likes to work thematically, using themes to represent the characters, so as you listen to the score. You can follow along what’s happening in the story. Three themes have been identified in the Ratatouille score: a rat theme, the main theme that represents Remy’s inner world, and a Linguini/buddy theme. This ‘thief’ like theme is in a minor key and fast tempo, which gives it a ‘sneaky’ character. The melody is carried by the bassoon, which characteristically has a ‘dark’ sound. All these elements reflect Remy’s unwanted rat life. This theme and variations of it can be heard in scenes where Remy is hiding or stealing from humans. It can be first heard in the song This Is Me where Remy is describing his life, as soon as he says: “I’m a rat.”
The sneaky rat leitmotif is an excellent introduction to Remy and who he is as a rat, which brings me to my next discussion point - the song that changed the feeling and mood of the film. Wall Rat is one of my favorite songs of the film. The reason this song is essential because it transitions from the sneaky rat theme to the main theme of the film. The main theme is most prevalent in Wall Rat where Remy reaches the roof of Gusteau’s restaurant and sees Paris for the first time. The theme perfectly captures the romantic image of Paris under the moonlight. This main theme represents all of his desires and dreams as he sees Paris for the first time. The song is so perfect because we see Remy's transformation into an artist for the first time. The sneaky rat theme represents what Remy is, and the main theme represents who Remy is.
Souped Up is another one of my favorite songs/scenes from the film. It shows Remy showing off his talent and doing what he loves before he gets caught. This scene is just under a minute, but it provides us with so much art and creativity. I how this 50-second piece is so easily recognizable from what is arguably the most memorable moment in the movie. It almost as if the song itself inspires people to go out and create and get excited about cooking, but it's just barely a minute long. That's pure genius composing right there.
Last but not least; we have Anyone Can Cook. Absolutely beautiful as it sums up all the feelings and emotions of the entire movie while brilliantly combining some leitmotifs. This song plays during Anton Ego's monologue towards the end of the film. He reads out his critique of Geustue's restaurant but adds in some life realizations and emotions he had not expressed before. During his voice over, the scene pans to Linguini, Remy, Collette, and Ego, thinking about what will happen and moving on with their lives. I wish that life were like this song. It's sweet, relaxed, beautiful, and promises good days ahead. In a way, it's true for the characters. It does indeed promise good days ahead for Remy, Linguini, Collette, and Ego.
But I realize, only now do I truly understand what he meant. Not everyone can become a great artist; but a great artist can come from anywhere -Anton Ego, 2007
In conclusion, the score is very eclectic, deriving influences from cartoon music to gypsy jazz to classic film music and everything in between. Yet the music remains strong throughout the film. Giacchino’s mastery lies in his understanding of characters, creating themes that perfectly capture their personalities. Without these themes, the film would have lacked the emotional arcs that differentiate modern animation scores from early cartoon music.