Grills on Film and Cultural Dialogue
by Samuel Jones
According to the Washington Post, Remy also has a different story to tell. In an article the other day, Remy is taken to represent a defence against perceptions in the US of French distaste for their cuisine which feeds off a wider rejection of recent politics. Remy learns to cook vegetables as young French chefs are taught in Parisian kitchens. One critic in the magazine, Telerama, writes of the film that 'what makes the difference is that it's a declaration of love to France, Paris -- and good food. People like it so much because Paris is depicted the way we would like it to be -- with kitsch references mixed with elements that are more contemporary'.
The importance of food has not gone unnoticed elsewhere. The Thai government, for instance, has recognised how significant Thai restaurants the world over are in spreading awareness of Thai culture. In 2003, it launched 'Global Thai', an initiative to support and boost Thai restaurants overseas with this in mind. From the point of view of the UK, it's worth remembering that when Asterix and Obelix visited Britiain, as well as meeting their cousins, they also met with insipid boiled food and warm beer. It's no news that food is important in national imagery.
Currently, we are thinking about food as a means of cultural dialogue. What makes Remy and Ratatouille interesting is the ease with which French critics and audiences have read national dialogue into it, and the speed with which journalists across the Atlantic have picked up on it as a means of redressing a shift of opinion away from the US.