Yesterday, the 2007 Disney Pixar film Ratatouille celebrated the 13th anniversary of its release. Twitter was awash in people praising the film, as well as those expressing shock that 13 years could have passed so fast (a pervasive sentiment on Twitter no matter the nostalgic topic du jour). As users shared their favorite stills from the film, there was a span of hours in which Twitter had never looked prettier. Because no matter what you think of the ridiculous plot—a hapless cook controlled like a marionette by a rat with ambitions to become the greatest chef in Paris—you have to admit that the movie is a stunning visual achievement.
Upon the film’s release, A.O. Scott of The New York Times was similarly swept up in Ratatouille’s aesthetic. “A whole new realm of physical texture and sensory detail has been conquered for animation,” Scott wrote in his review. “At first glance, ‘Ratatouille’ may look less groundbreaking [than previous Pixar films], since talking furry rodents are hardly a novelty in cartoons. But the innovations are nonetheless there, in the fine grain of every image: in the matted look of wet rat fur and the bright scratches in the patina of well-used copper pots, in the beads of moisture on the surface of cut vegetables and the sauce-stained fabric of cooks’ aprons.”
And the kitchen! Much of the film is spent panning around the kitchen at the famous Gusteau’s restaurant in Paris. The tiled floor, vintage appliances, and coppery, cathedral-like expanse of the room is played in stark contrast to the carpeted, crimson dark of the adjoining dining room. Make no mistake: the kitchen is where you want to be. Right up until the point you see the food that the diners get to eat.
Ratatouille was adored by critics, but gets slightly lost in the Pixar canon. It isn’t even in the top 10 highest grossing opening weekends of Pixar films, and its release was sandwiched between Cars in 2006 and WALL-E in 2008, both of which were treated to more promotional fanfare. But surely we can agree that it offers something visually distinct from its more popular counterparts, something complex and mature and elegant. Which Pixar film could beat Ratatouille in the looks department? We’re willing to hear arguments for other contenders, though it’ll take a pretty strong argument to dislodge the divine image of those stewed vegetables from our minds.