Thursday 20 January 2011

A is for Animal-helpers - Mrs Denise Nesbitt's ABC - Wednesday - Round 8 - A

A is for Animal-helpers.

Have you ever wished that you could get a little extra help with dusting? Or when the dishes in the kitchen sink are overflowing? Or wouldn't it be nice to catch up on the laundry? I suspect that these are universal secret desires, since scenes of such wish-fullfillment are to be found in some unexpected places.

All photos from the 1937 film, Snow White, are taken by me,
off the screen, but are the copyright of Walt Disney

I am linking up with Mrs Denise Nesbitt and others for ABC- Wednesday, Round 8, which starts with the letter A this week. My A-word is 'Animal-helpers'.

I could have written about working animals such a seeing-eye or rescue dogs (which are the real-life animal-helpers), But have chosen the world of folklore as seen in two well-known animated children's films.

In folktales and fairytales there is often a so-called donor, a person who helps the main character through supernatural or magical means to win success and happiness. 'The fairy godmother is a well-known form of this character. Many other supernatural patrons are featured in fairy tales; these include various kinds of animals and the spirit of a dead mother.'[1]

Animal-helpers are the donors that have best survived the change of media from an oral tradition to literary fairy tales to modern (read Walt Disney here) animated films made for children.

Looking at Walt Disney's 1937 film Snow White, we see how the small animals of the forest, deer, different kinds of birds, rabbits, turtles, mice, chipmunks and raccoons pitch in to help Snow White clean up the mess that the seven dwarfs have left behind when they go to off to work.

(I'll close my eyes to the fact that animals like chipmunks an racoons were not present in the European forest when the brothers, Jacob (1785-1863) and Wilhelm Grimm (1786-1859) gathered and edited their collections of folktales in Kinder und Hausmärchen 1812-1857. Source:Wikipedia in Swedish; in English)

Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm 1855 (Source)

Much of these extra animal helpers are not in the original folktales.

Take a closer look at this sequence: This baby deer licks the plates that the squirrel holds up.

Snow White thinks about good kitchen hygiene and tells them to put the dishes in the sink instead of licking them 'clean'.

Let's stay in the kitchen a while longer (there is alway so much to do there!) and take a look at a much later children's animated film Ratatouille from 2007. This is a story about a French rat, Remi, who dreams the impossible dream: to become a five-star chef in Paris. He is befriended by Alfredo, who works as a busboy in a once very famous restaurant. Alfredo, who cannot cook at all, succeeds in making these incredibly delicious dishes by using Remi the rat's talent for cooking. It sounds absurd, but the people at Pixar have made an unusually well-crafted and entertaining family movie out of that which seems an impossible combination: haute cuisine and rodents! (I have already written a post about Remi the rat for the French Obssession here. Sara Cat has written about the film Rattatouille on her blog for 'Fluffy Friday' here.)

At a crucial point in the plot, when an important food critic, Anton Ego[!] comes to the restuarant to judge the quality of the food, Alfredo is left completely alone. All the other employees desert him after he confesses to his collaboration with a rat. Remi the rat returns to help Alfredo and brings his father and all the other rats in their clan, who loyally and willingly work in the kitchen while Alfredo, almost the only human in the staff left, waits on tables on roller-skates. (Alfredo's love-interest Colette return also.)
Remi the rat, knows how to run a restaurant kitchen. The first thing he demands of his newly inlisted help is that they wash!

So the rats literally shower in the dishwater to be as clean as possible! (Here is something that we can recall from Snow White!)

The next thing Remi does is to divide the rats into different working teams that are responsible for different kinds of entrées. Not unlike Snow White's directing and telling the different animals how they are going to dust, sweep, do the dishes and wash the clothes.

As mentioned earlier Alfredo is the sole waiter that evening and is of course delighted that the rats want to help him.

To speed things up, Alfredo uses his roller-skates.

Here we see an overview of how the rats in teams have taken over the work that normally human cooks do.

Here, as large rat 'tenderises' a piece of meat:

And here we see rats grating cheese...

... by riding them like a slede down a grater!

Remi is the chef and is giving orders to the other rats here:

Quality-control is important to Remi. Here, he asks to taste what the other rats have made.

'Spoons, down!' he shouts.

Remi's dear sweet, but chubby brother, Emile is supposed to clean the edges of the plates with a clean rag before Alfredo carrys them out to the guests.

But here the temptation is almost too great. Emile trys to lick the spot that he should wipe away. He gets a stern reprimand of Remi, which feels like an unconsciencious nod to the little dish-washing deer in Snow White!

Colette returns and is at first shocked to find that the rats have taken over the kitchen.

She decides to help Remi and Alfredo and asks Remi what he wants to make for Anton Ego.

Remi chooses a recipe card for the vegetable stew, rattatouille.

Remi feels intuitively that this is the right way to go.

Colette helps Remi and even does it in the manner that Remi requests, which is not exactly according to the given recipe.

Colette is a tough kind of a gal, with a soft spot for Alfredo, and without her both Alfredo and Remi would be lost.

Take a good look at Colette. Doesn't she remind you of someone?

Yes! Doesn't she look a bit like Snow White?

'Be good to your animals and they will help you!' is what Sara Cat would say if this had been her post. But she did not want to do this one. She intends to write about another vintage Disney film. (Guess which one!)

Best wishes,

First Commenter:

Visit other posts about the letter A by clicking here.

If you live in the UK, you can order these films here:
(I don't want to be commercial. One of the reasons that I offer the possibility of purchasing these items is so that I don't get into legal trouble about the copyright of these images.)

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