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Beautiful, charming score for Pixar's latest
A review by JAMES SOUTHALL
Music composed by
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Album running time
Album cover copyright (c) 2007 Disney Enterprises, Inc. / Pixar; review copyright (c) 2007 James Southall
After the success of The Incredibles, fans of animations were eagerly awaiting Brad Bird's follow-up for Pixar, Ratatouille. I was the only person in the world who thought The Incredibles was a bit disappointing (it's still good by any other standards, but compared with the other Pixar features I don't think it quite holds up) - but was charmed by the delightful Ratatouille, an unlikely but lovely story about a rat with unusual gastronomic talents. The hallmarks of Pixar at its best are all there, with the jokes which will appeal to all ages and some stunning animation which takes the field on to the next level (a chase sequence through the streets and waterways of Paris is awe-inspiring).
Musically, the film is a feast. Michael Giacchino's first high-profile film score was for The Incredibles and so it's no surprise to find him back here. The music's centrepiece is the song "Le Festin" beautifully sung by Camille - when I heard it in the film, I assumed it was an old French standard - Giacchino perfectly captures the joie de vivre of one of the world's great romantic countries, and it gets a pitch-perfect performance. The song's melody finds its way into the score on frequent occasions, in various guises, and it's always nice to hear it.
The score itself begins with a brief (but, I guess, inevitable) burst of La Marseillaise before the real dominant force of the score comes through in "This is Me", which reminds me a bit (intentionally, I assume) of the light, airy sound of the early Truffaut / Delerue collaborations. "Granny Get Your Gun" has the same kind of laid-back charm, and it's as relaxing and pleasant an atmosphere as you're ever likely to find in the score for modern animated feature, though it develops into a piece of dramatic action music which isn't a million miles away from The Incredibles, with Giacchino's typically busy style very much in evidence.
The action gets a more French twist in the delightful, semi-comic "100 Rat Dash" which really shows this composer's growing gifts as a film composer, since he captures the mood so perfectly - and the score remains in this style through a fairly extended section, with lighthearted action music dominating for a few consecutive tracks. It's all melodic and charming. The completely relaxed atmosphere returns in "Remy Drives a Linguini", whose whistler and harmonica only add to its endless charm.
A touch of romance is added with the addition of the disturbingly attractive Colette, "Colette Shows Him Le Ropes" brimming with Parisian flavours. "Special Order" continues the theme, brimming with the life of a busy kitchen. A more sinister atmosphere appears in "Kiss and Vinegar" as the film takes on a slightly darker hue, but Giacchino builds the music with the same blocks as the rest of the score so even though it is distrinctly different in tone, it is recognisably part of the same musical story. It's not long before the gentle comedy returns, with "Heist to See You" being one of those lovely little comic heist pieces; it leads into the frenetic action of "The Paper Chase", a brilliantly-scored sequence whose music works just as well away from the film.
"Abandoning Ship" introduces a melancholy air as the film nears its conclusion, with one of the main themes played in a splendid piano arrangement before being taken up by the strings - it's one of the score's standout moments. "Dinner Rush", with a hint of John Williams at his most exuberant, is a gleefully busy piece; and there's a particularly charming finale, "Anyone Can Cook", which beautifully captures the film's spirit, before the lengthy end credits piece, "End Creditouilles", a jazzy run-through of the main themes in much the same style as the equivalent track in The Incredibles. Ratatouille is a delightful score for a delightful film, and another impressive effort by America's finest young film composer. (Even if the music wasn't very good, I would recommend the album anyway due to the little logo inside the booklet which says "100% genuine live analog music! No samples, loops or any other musical shortcuts were used in the production of this soundtrack.")