ON THIS PAGE: THE RATATOUILLE RECIPE: BRAD BIRD BLENDS TOGETHER A UNIVERSAL TALE OF FAMILY, FRIENDSHIP AND FOLLOWING ONE'S OWN PATH IN LIFE; MEET THE CREATIVE TEAM
THE COOKS IN THE KITCHEN: BRINGING TO LIFE THE CHARACTERS OF RATATOUILLE
CREATING ADORABLE BUT BELIEVABLE RATS; PARIS: A BREATHTAKING NEW WAY TO LOOK AT THE CITY OF LIGHT; THE RECIPE FOR SUCCESS: CREATING RATATOUILLE'S DELECTABLE ARRAY OF FINE FOOD
FROM TOQUES TO TABLECLOTHS: RATATOUILLE PUSHES THE ENVELOPE IN CLOTH DESIGN; PARIS FROM THE TWO-INCH TALL PERSPECTIVE: THE CINEMATOGRAPHY OF RATATOUILLE STIRRING UP THE MUSIC: ABOUT MICHAEL GIACCHINO'S SCORE
WRITER-DIRECTOR BRAD BIRDS TALKS ABOUT RATATOUILLE
From Academy Award-winning director Brad Bird and the amazing storytellers at Pixar Animation Studios comes the most original comedy of the summer about one of the most unlikely friendship's imaginable. The film's protagonist is a rat named Remy who dares to dream the impossible dream of becoming a gourmet chef in a five-star French restaurant. Together with a down-and-out garbage boy named Linguini, the pair carves their own imaginative path to becoming the greatest chef in Paris.
THE RATATOUILLE RECIPE: BRAD BIRD BLENDS TOGETHER A UNIVERSAL TALE OF
FAMILY, FRIENDSHIP AND FOLLOWING ONE'S OWN PATH IN LIFE
Pixar has repeatedly taken audiences on totally original adventures with a host of cinema's most surprising and unforgettable characters. From toys coming to life ("Toy Story" and "Toy Story 2"), to a group of monsters terrified by a little girl roaming their world ("Monsters Inc."), to a tiny fish lost in a vast ocean ("Finding Nemo"), to superheroes trying to lead suburban lives ("The Incredibles"), to a hot-shot race car waylaid on Route 66 ("Cars"), the cutting-edge animation studio has consistently presented unique stories full of emotional and visual excitement.
This summer, with RATATOUILLE, that storytelling tradition takes yet another wild leap, this time into an uproarious, and unprecedented, animated riff on classic physical comedy. As the film follows a young rat named Remy's quest to leave his garbage-eating roots behind and really cook, it takes him into a world where he's at once creatively inspired and in constant danger - a circumstance ripe for all kinds of comically chaotic situations and side-splitting stunts. Just as it looks like Remy's one big chance at finding his way into a five-star kitchen is in trouble, he strikes up an unlikely friendship with the restaurant's down-and-out garbage boy, coming up with a clever, if literally hair-raising, plan that will allow these two outcasts to achieve great things together.
Amidst the perils and pratfalls, the film also traverses through universal themes: the bonds of friendship and loyalty; the battle against family expectations and finding your own independence in spite of them; and most of all, the importance of being true to who you are, even if you're not quite what anyone expects.
Says the film's director, Brad Bird: "I think we all have impossible dreams and we do what we can to pursue them - and Remy's dream might be the ultimate impossible dream of them all."
Comments John Lasseter, chief creative officer Walt Disney and Pixar Animation Studios and a two-time Academy Award®-winning director: "The idea of following one's creative passion against all odds is one that Brad Bird cares deeply about. And it shows because he's created an amazing film that's deeply funny in an original way and has a real emotional core to it, which is so important to us. There's a level of depth, complexity and humor to this film that I don't think any Pixar film has had before."
For Bird, RATATOUILLE was a chance to choreograph a kind of Buster Keaton or Max Sennett-style physical comedy full of dashing, leaping, chasing and catapulting -- yet also imbued with the spirit of die-hard characters tackling the implausible and triumphing over all the adversity that comes their way.
The story's original mix of witty repartee, acrobatic hijinx, tightly choreographed comic timing and resonant emotional themes was an exciting next step for Bird, who made his Pixar debut with the Academy Award®-winning hit "The Incredibles," an animated feature so humanly complex and moving that it was included on numerous year-end Top Ten Lists right along with its live-action cousins, breaking down the barriers between the two.
"I was really intrigued by the possibilities of RATATOUILLE's premise," says Bird. "The story has such a great and relatable hero because in order for Remy to do the one thing he loves, he has to go into a world that's completely hostile to him. He wants to express himself in a way the world doesn't expect him to, and I think a lot of people know that feeling," says Bird. "The question is: just how bold and clever can this little guy be in pursuing the thing that matters most to him, and what will he discover along the way? The story is in the tradition of that kind of timeless physical comedy that spans all languages and cultures, but it's been given a fresh twist."
Bird was especially excited about injecting the film with wild twists and turns from nail-biting suspense to no-holds-barred comedy, from navigating the whitewater rapids of Paris's famously intricate sewers to the high-pressure hustle of a restaurant serving dinner with a critic in the house. "Part of the joy of RATATOUILLE is simply that it is so unpredictable," Bird notes. "If we've done our job right, when you think it's going left it goes right, and vice versa, hopefully all in a way that's not only humorous but from the heart."
The enchantment of RATATOUILLE begins with the charm of the characters, developed by Bird and Jan Pinkava, who first invented the film's premise, and whose characters join the Pixar pantheon with real and relatable inner lives. At the center of the tale's emotional appeal are Remy's many different relationships - including those with the affectionate but flummoxed father who doesn't understand the road he has chosen; with the ghost of the legendary French chef he has idolized all his life, despite their different species; and especially with Linguini, with whom he forms an unusual symbiotic friendship based at first on their mutual desperation but which turns into something truly life-altering for both of them.
Though rodents have a long and storied history in animation, right down to Mickey Mouse himself, rats are often cast as villains and rarely as screen heroes. But Remy manages to bust through that taboo as he finds wily ways to evade detection inside the kitchen, often by a mere whisker, while whipping up recipes that become rousing successes. His courage comes to the fore as he uses one of his species' most inspiring and human-like qualities -- a spirited affinity for taking on a perilous world far larger than themselves - in remarkably inventive ways, including pairing up with Linguini to make an invincible team in the kitchen.
For Brad Bird, the many barriers that appear to stand between Remy and success - from his family's lowly expectations to the health inspector's impending visit -- made the storytelling process that much more humor-filled and exciting. "When you have a lead character with such big obstacles to overcome, that's really juicy stuff for animators. There's so much inherent conflict and drama to grab onto," the director notes. "I've always liked stories that take advantage of how far character animation can go, but this goes to a new extreme."
Indeed, with its fast-and-furious comic pacing, its madcap antics and its painterly beauty, RATATOUILLE features some of the most sophisticated visuals yet seen in a CG animated film, once again nudging the technical bar for animated filmmaking skyward. Among the film's many unique qualities is its locale -- an ornately magical imagining of Paris. Then there is the food. Not just any food, but the most delicious, scrumptious, artistically presented gourmet meals imaginable. All of which takes audiences into a realm of sublime visual delights previously unexplored in CG animation and helping to create an utterly authentic world in which audiences might even believe that a rat could be a chef in the kitchen.
Yet the technological achievements of the film are always in service to spinning an even more enveloping and laughter-filled tale that celebrates the challenges of being true to friends, family and the search to find real happiness in life. Notes John Lasseter: "These characters are so charming and so emotionally believable that the audience isn't likely to even realize they are seeing new technology. You're just too caught up in their story."
Producer Brad Lewis believes that Brad Bird was the perfect man to take on this mission of pushing the boundaries of animated comedy in the name of innovative storytelling - in part because of his Remy-like refusal to believe anything is impossible. "Brad Bird is as intense and passionate as Remy is in the film," Lewis muses. "I've never seen someone so locked into what's going to make a story work creatively and emotionally. He's got these skills of perception where he always hones right in on what's going to make things a little more natural, or a little more funny or a little more true. And he's a genius with physical comedy."
Bird ultimately hopes the film will take audiences on a journey that keeps them constantly off guard, yet rooting for Remy to achieve the seemingly impossible and save not only himself but his new friends at Gusteau's Restaurant. Sums up Bird: "When you can get audiences to believe in something that might seem inherently unbelievable, that's the real magic of movies."
BRAD BIRD (Screenwriter/Director) is the director of the Academy Award-winning "The Incredibles," the computer animated comedy-adventure from Pixar Animation Studios. "The Incredibles," based upon an original screenplay written by Bird, is about a family of super heroes forced to go undercover and adopt civilian identities.
Prior to joining Pixar, Bird wrote and directed the critically acclaimed 1999 animated feature, "The Iron Giant," which won the International Animated Film Society's Annie Award for Outstanding Achievement in an Animated Theatrical Feature.
Bird began his first animated film at the age of 11, and finished it nearly three years later. The film brought him to the attention of Walt Disney Studios where, at age 14, he was mentored by Milt Kahl, one of a distinguished group of Disney's legendary animators known as the "Nine Old Men." Bird eventually worked as an animator at Disney and other studios.
Bird's credits include acting as executive consultant on "The Simpsons," the longest running and most celebrated animated television series of all time, and "King of the Hill." He also created, wrote, directed and co-produced the "Family Dog" episode of Steven Spielberg's "Amazing Stories," and co-wrote the screenplay for the live-action feature "*batteries not included."
BRAD LEWIS (Producer) joined Pixar Animation Studios in November 2001, bringing with him twenty years of film, theatre, television, and advertising production expertise.
Prior to Pixar, Lewis spent thirteen years as a producer, executive producer, and executive vice-president of production at Pacific Data Images, a wholly owned subsidiary of DreamWorks Animation SKG. He was a producer on the animated feature film "ANTZ" and amongst his other feature film production credits are "Forces of Nature," "The Peacemaker" and "Broken Arrow."
Lewis produced television specials such as Hanna-Barbera's "The Last Halloween," for which he won an Emmy, and the first 3D episode of "The Simpsons." He received a second Emmy for graphic design utilized on ABC's "Monday Night Football." Additionally, Lewis' outstanding commercial production work netted him two coveted Clios.
Lewis' first break into the entertainment industry was as a personal production assistant on "The Merv Griffin Show," and he also performed on-stage as a "dancing monster" in the national stage production of "Sesame Street Live!"
Lewis graduated from Fresno State University with a bachelor of arts in Theatre, and lives in San Carlos, California, with his wife, son and daughter where he also currently serves as Vice Mayor.
JOHN LASSETER (Executive Producer) is chief creative officer of Walt Disney and Pixar Animation Studios and principal creative advisor, Walt Disney Imagineering. He is a two-time Academy Award®-winning director and oversees all Pixar and Disney animated films and associated projects. Lasseter directed the groundbreaking and critically acclaimed films "Toy Story," "A Bug's Life," "Toy Story 2" and "Cars." Additionally, he executive produced "Monsters, Inc.," "Finding Nemo" and "The Incredibles."
In 2004, Lasseter was honored by the Art Directors Guild with its prestigious "Outstanding Contribution To Cinematic Imagery" award, and received an honorary degree from the American Film Institute.
Under Lasseter's supervision, Pixar's animated feature and short films have received a multitude of critical accolades and film industry honors. He received a Special Achievement Oscar® in 1995 for his inspired leadership of the "Toy Story" team. His work on "Toy Story" also resulted in an Academy Award®-nomination for "Best Original Screenplay," the first time an animated feature had been recognized in that category. "Finding Nemo," released spring 2003, became the highest grossing animated feature of all time, and won the Oscar® for "Best Animated Feature Film."
As creative director of Pixar, Lasseter enjoyed the critical acclaim and box office success of "The Incredibles" in 2004. The film was recognized with a record-breaking 16 Annie Award nominations and several "Best Of" awards by The Wall Street Journal, American Film Institute, National Board of Review and many others.
Lasseter also has written, directed and animated a number of highly renowned short films and television commercials for Pixar, including "Luxo Jr.." (1986 Academy Award® nominee); "Red's Dream" (1987); "Tin Toy" (1988 Academy Award® winner); and "Knickknack" (1989), which was produced as a 3D stereoscopic film. Pixar's "Tin Toy" became the first computer animated film to win an Oscar® when it received the 1988 Academy Award® for Best Animated Short Film.
Prior to the formation of Pixar in 1986, Lasseter was a member of the Computer Division of Lucasfilm Ltd., where he designed and animated the computer-generated Stained Glass Knight character in the 1985 Steven Spielberg-produced film "Young Sherlock Holmes."
Lasseter attended the inaugural year of the Character Animation program at California Institute of the Arts and received his B.F.A. in film there in 1979. While attending California Institute of the Arts Lasseter produced two animated films, both winners of the Student Academy Award® for Animation: "Lady and the Lamp" in 1979 and "Nitemare" in 1980. His very first award came at the age of five when he won $15.00 from the Model Grocery Market in Whittier, California, for a crayon drawing of the Headless Horseman.
ANDREW STANTON (Executive Producer) has been a major creative force at Pixar Animation Studios since 1990, when he became the second animator and ninth employee to join the company's elite group of computer animation pioneers. As Vice President, Creative, he currently leads the initiatives of and oversees all features and shorts development of the studio, and most recently served as the executive producer on the upcoming Disney·Pixar RATATOUILLE, scheduled for release on June 29, 2007.
Andrew made his directorial debut with the record-shattering "Finding Nemo," an original story of his that he also co-wrote. The film garnered Andrew two Academy Award © nominations (Best Original Screenplay & Best Animated Film), and "Finding Nemo" was awarded an OscarÒ for Best Animated Feature Film of 2003, the first such honor Pixar Animation Studios has received for a full-length feature.
Andrew was one of the four screenwriters to receive an Oscar® nomination in 1996 for his contribution to "Toy Story" and went on to receive credit as a screenwriter on every subsequent Pixar film - "A Bug's Life." "Toy Story 2," "Monsters, Inc.," and "Finding Nemo." Additionally, he served as co-director on "A Bug's Life," and was the executive producer of the 2001 Oscar®-nominated hit "Monsters, Inc."
A native of Rockport, Massachusetts, Andrew earned a BFA in character animation from California Institute of the Arts (Cal Arts), where he completed two student films. In the 1980s, he launched his professional career in Los Angeles animating for Bill Kroyer's Kroyer Films studio, and writing for Ralph Bakshi's production of "Mighty Mouse, The New Adventures" (1987).
Andrew is currently writing and directing the next Disney·Pixar feature film WALL·E, scheduled to release on June 27, 2008.
Multitasker PETER SOHN (Story Artist, Animator, Voice of Emile) worked as a story artist, animator, and voice of Emile on the upcoming Disney·Pixar's RATATOUILLE, scheduled for release in June 2007.
Sohn started working for Pixar Animation Studios in September of 2000, where he worked in both the art and story departments for "Finding Nemo." Sohn then began work on "The Incredibles" in the art, story, and animation departments. He focused on animating members of the Parr family and worked on many memorable scenes from the film.
Prior to Pixar, Sohn worked at Warner Bros. with RATATOUILLE director Brad Bird on "The Iron Giant", as well as at Disney T.V. He grew up in New York and attended California Institute of the Arts, more commonly known as Cal Arts. He currently lives in the Bay Area.
THOMAS KELLER (Chef) is widely regarded as one of America's finest chefs. With a career spanning more than two decades, Keller is currently the chef and owner of The French Laundry, Bouchon, and Bouchon Bakery, in Yountville, CA; Bouchon in Las Vegas, NV; and Per Se and Bouchon Bakery in New York City. His critically acclaimed and award-winning cookbooks include The French Laundry Cookbook and Bouchon Cookbook. For the Disney•Pixar film, RATATOUILLE, Keller was a key consultant on French cuisine, cooking and the interworkings of a French kitchen. Keller also designed a dish for the film and voices the small part of a restaurant patron at Gusteau's.
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