Show Review: Ratatouille—Feature Film with Live Orchestra

by Chad Liffmann on July 19, 2016

“In many ways, the work of a critic is easy. We risk very little yet enjoy a position over those who offer up their work and their selves to our judgment. We thrive on negative criticism, which is fun to write and to read.” -Anton Ego, Ratatouille

There will be no negative criticism here. Ratatouille live at the San Francisco Symphony was absolutely wonderful, highlighting both the magnificent award-winning score by Michael Giacchino and the brilliant animated masterpiece that is Brad Bird’s 2007 Pixar film. Audience members of all ages, including many families, entered Davies Symphony Hall over the weekend to watch Ratatouille. The SF Symphony has delivered numerous memorable film screenings accompanied by live scores, and this one sits near the top.

Let’s be clear though, Ratatouille is my favorite Pixar film, so there’s an inherent bias here. But that doesn’t take away from the accomplishments of the film or the music. The scene in which Remy scrambles up, through and between Parisian apartments to a rooftop with a gorgeous view of Paris and Gusteau’s captures the heart of Giacchino’s full-bodied score, featuring many of Ratatouille‘s musical motifs and emotions repeated throughout. The scene is also remarkable for how it balances humor, excitement, and gorgeously animated lighting effects. More than many other Pixar films, Ratatouille sets the mood brilliantly for each emotion it aims to emit. In another scene, when Linguini, desperate to utilize Remy’s cooking talents, releases the rat along The Seine, it’s heartbreaking as Remy runs away. But a moment later, it’s even more tearfully heartbreaking when Remy slowly returns through the shadows, set to a soft but swelling musical theme, signaling his interest in helping Linguini out after all, despite the risks.

If you read my interview with the show’s conductor, Sarah Hicks, you’ll hear how she believes hearing a movie score is “SO MUCH more thrilling and visceral when it’s live!” If you attended any of the SF Symphony’s live music with film events, like E.T. the Extra Terrestrial, or Psycho, you’ll agree with her. The live music reaches a depth within you and elicits a stronger emotional reaction than recorded music would’ve with your generic household speakers. Watching Ratatouille is a delicious treat in itself — watching it with a live score is a delicacy!

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The San Francisco Symphony continues:
– Final Symphony: Music from FINAL FANTASY VI, VII and X. Info and tickets here.
– Pink Martini with the San Francisco Symphony. Info and tickets here.

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