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  • Writer's pictureShannon Heibler

Ratatouille (2007)

My favorite Pixar film and a hell of a way to come back to this project.


The last few weeks have been really tough. Have broken me in a way I haven't been broken by theater in years (see the Spirited Away entry) and in a way I didn't think I could be any more. I'm honestly too tired to go into it any further (also, yikes, I don't need to be that messy on main any more), but I will say that it clarified for me that it's time to move on from my career. Which is why this movie hits even closer to home than usual.


The line I think of often is "I know who I am. Why do I need you to tell me? Why do I need to pretend?" The anguish of that line feels so familiar, even if the sentiment does not. I don't know who I am. Not concretely. I don't know that I ever have. The line that strikes fear into my heart (yeah if you thought because this is a cartoon it was going to be light you have not been paying attention) is Gusteau saying "Anyone can cook but only the fearless can be great." And I am so afraid. Constantly. And I am keenly aware that it holds me back in my art. Something else I learned (or maybe relearned) is that I am capable of truly remarkable things when my back is to the wall. But I don't want to create under those circumstances anymore. I don't want to be in those positions. I want to pull that unhinged genius out when I want to, not when I have to. But I'm so scared all the time, it gets stuck.


I want this:


Unbridled joy of creation.


I realized recently that one of the things that's held me back from leaving theater earlier is that I have a deep longing to redeem myself in the eyes of people who I respect, though truthfully I don't know how I do that. I hate to admit it but I'm hung up on the worry that they perceive me a certain way. And I couldn't tell you if I'm more worried that they're wrong or that they're right. But like Remy, I can only be me and some of that will jive with some people and some of it will jive with others but *I* have to come to terms with all of it. And I have to accept change. Growth. Strive for it.


This movie has so much fabulousness built into it, even beyond articulating my existential crisis. Patton Oswalt's voice work is terrific. Brad Bird's direction, as ever, is sublime. This was the score that made me fall in love with Michael Giacchino's work. This introduced me to Nate Wragg, an artist I wish had more of a social media presence because his work is so delightful. Really intelligent whimsy that I am obsessed with. (Also sometimes sexy which is a feat!) I am obsessed with Collette's rapid fire explanation of the patriarchy in haute cuisine.


I love the reminder that art (in whatever form it takes) is good when it connects people. I need that reminder more often. Someone pointing at it and saying "Good" is nowhere near as crucial as someone taking it in and saying, "I feel seen."


Reduction block print. Ink on paper.


Takeaways:

-Goooooolllllllllllllly gosh it's good to be back. This week, as I slumped into a post exhaustion depression (and my therapist's words "How are you preparing for the slump that's coming?" echoing in my head), it became clearer and clearer that making stuff is good for my heart, head and soul. And mental health. I wish I would have realized that sooner but I realized it and that's wonderful.

-I did this in speed carve lino to go easy on myself this week but it was a mistake. This design is really detailed and curvy and those features don't work so well in this material. And now that I've got really solid carving tools, I don't need to mess around with this stuff anymore.

-I wish the copper layer popped a little more. I bought copper ink on a whim only to realize later that I was inspired by the copper pots of the kitchen. Thanks brain for saying, "get the copper get the copper get the copper" while I was at the art store.

-I feel like I wrote about it previously (who can remember with 81!! entries), but I've been fascinated by reduction prints but terrified of them. It's a multi-layered process where you carve a little away for each layer, meaning you cannot go backwards and once you're done with a batch, you cannot print more. It's scary. I did not set out to do a reduction print but as I was designing the block, it kept leaping into my mind, especially as I working on the word "fearless." And so I changed the plan. It's only two but now I'm excited to try it again.

-I nailed placement of the second layer on my test sheet and thought "oh this is easy". (Ron Howard narrator voice: It was not.) So out of 10 prints, maybe four are "correct" but even those are a little wonky. This, the first and weakest blue layer, turned out to be the best. There's a lesson in there somewhere.


Next week, the movie that actually managed to make me want to be an F-14 pilot for a big chunk of my childhood: Top Gun. AND this means I'll be primed and ready to finally see the sequel that people seem really jazzed about.


Oh friends, I hope this week is relaxing and rejuvenating. I hope you eat some really great food and I hope you try something that scares you. Maybe there's some overlap there. As for me, I'm just thrilled to be back home and back to this project.


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