Scott D. Parker
Pixar’s Ratatouille is one of my favorites from that studio. It’s different from the rest of the movies. Sure, there is slapstick comedy aplenty, but it goes deeper under the surface. The movie gets to a core of what it is like to be a creator.
The more I watch this film—probably once a year—I get something new that I never considered before. Ever since the first viewing, the ending soliloquy by Anton Ego, as voiced by the sonorous Peter O’Toole, struck a deep nerve with me. I’m giving away the ending here, but here’s the setup. Anton Ego, the critic, is astonished to discover that the true chef is Remi the Rat. As he says in the movie, it shook him to his core. He is faced with a dire situation: does he tell the truth about the chef and face ridicule or lie. In the end, he gives this speech:
In many ways, the work of a critic is easy. We risk very little yet enjoy a position over those who offer up their work and their selves to our judgment. We thrive on negative criticism, which is fun to write and to read. But the bitter truth we critics must face is that, in the grand scheme of things, the average piece of junk is more meaningful than our criticism designating it so. But there are times when a critic truly risks something, and that is in the discovery and defense of the new. Last night, I experienced something new, an extraordinary meal from a singularly unexpected source. To say that both the meal and its maker have challenged my preconceptions is a gross understatement. They have rocked me to my core. In the past, I have made no secret of my disdain for Chef Gusteau’s famous motto: Anyone can cook. But I realize that only now do I truly understand what he meant. Not everyone can become a great artist, but a great artist can come from anywhere. It is difficult to imagine more humble origins than those of the genius now cooking at Gusteau’s, who is, in this critic’s opinion, nothing less than the finest chef in France. I will be returning to Gusteau’s soon, hungry for more.
Powerful stuff, especially when you learn that he was fired from his job with his reputation ruined. But he was content having opened his own restaurant with Remi as the lead chef.
But the quote that stayed with me during yesterday’s viewing was one from the ghost of Gusteau. When he’s describing what it takes to be a chef, he says this:
“You must be imaginative, strong-hearted. You must try things that may not work, and you must not let anyone define your limits because of where you come from.”
Those words percolated in my mind and I realized that the quote can apply to anything and any profession. Heck, any passion can be applied to that quote.
After last night, I’ve added it to my list of quotes.
To be honest, Ratatouille can act as a case study for passion. “Wonder Boys” is another.
What other movies can y’all think of that come across as case studies for a passion?