My third year of Media Production at Coventry contains a module called 360MC, Research and Development to support us before the production of our FMP (Final Media Project.) The module includes producing three creative artefacts around three different themes to explore, experiment and influence our FMP.
In exploring different ideas for my Artefact 1, about food, I wanted to understand how food is represented to convey specific emotions and how food is used to communicate different characters emotions. The films I will be analysing are The Lady and the Tramp, Ratatouille, Sweet Movie, Tampopo and finally The Meaning of Life.
I want to start off with the most iconic scene from Disney’s 1955 animated film Lady and the Tramp. Two dogs from different backgrounds come together and share a romantic meal of spaghetti and meatballs.
The scene is as natural to human experiences as possible. It is a romantic setting and the best way to try and communicate a dog’s emotion is to use food interaction. The food in this scene is acting as a prop to be able to describe the love the two animals have for each other. The sharing of the palette and the idea of spaghetti could communicate their fast and ever growing feelings and relationship because right at the end without their knowledge they share a kiss and it creates and bond. The atmosphere is calm and soothing, the food becomes an experience of sharing and romance.
Ratatouille is a Pixar animated film made in 2007. I found this film interesting because there are many aspects where food becomes a necessity to a luxury, a dream from a pest (rat) called Remy.
It is very interesting to see how the use of food can translate to many inspiring messages. Remy didn’t want to eat out the rubbish and wanted to use his gifted talent, his highly sensitive smell be able to cook. In any Pixar films there are many conflicts and in this movie in particular food is used to translate the passion and smartness of an underdog character, used as a placement holder to communicate many other issues and also unite unlikely friendships. I believe this is what happened in the Food Workshop. People found a connection, a subject to talk about to break the ice and come together to enjoy the meal, share memories and experiences and that what happens at the very end of the film. The soup is recreated and it brings precise memories back, the love for cooking is so we can share with our loved ones to create new and lasting memories. It also communicated ideas of ‘bonds of friendship and loyalty; the battle against family expectations and finding your own independence in spite of them; and most of all, the importance of being true to who you are, even if you’re not quite what anyone expects.’ (Pixar Talk, n.d.)
The next films I am going to analyse is The Sweet Movie (1974) and the Tampop (1985) these films use food in a sexualised way and we are going to explore particular scenes from both.
Tampop is about guiding a Japanese widow owner of a noodle shop to find the perfect recipe. There are many scenes that can be analysed where food is used to represent power, sexual imbalance humour and fetishism. ‘When the criminal under world is well integrated into business culture, while he is entertaining his girlfriend with food and sex.’ (Bower, n.d.)
However, the ‘The Egg Yolk’ scene is a powerful representation of food being sexualized. A raw egg is passed between two partners, from mouth to mouth to represent sex and when the egg breaks it initializes the climax. This can be communicated through all cultures and languages and be understood, the egg itself it’s the interaction with the characters but the egg symbolises reproduction and fertility.
Sweet Movie follows two different women, one of that goes on a spiritual journey and another one is captain of a ship and leers men/boys on board using sugar and sweets.
What I found interesting about the Sweet Movie was people’s reaction to it. Here is a recording of my classmates reacting to scene above
The director’s goal was to ‘make the consumer want to consume her, the idea of sex, of sugar, of sexual revolution’ (Arf, 2015) It also shows how deceiving anyone can be no matter how sweet. ‘These self-destructive elements we find in revolutionary movements, that we have been able to observe around us, that are the result of unresolved problems, lead to catastrophic distortions…also the product of self-destruction for the Cause.’ (Mortimer, 2009) I believe using the sugar to represent how deceiving people can be is a powerful tool to communicate and represent certain characters.
The final Case Study is The Meaning Of Life. There are 7 scenarios and the one I am going to explore is The Autumn Years. Mr Creosote is introduced to us as the customer, a socially higher-class man. His big size can show his wealth and that he is a good for business. However, he is rude, commanding orders and by vomiting on the cleaner lady who is obedient shows the importance of the social class in the restaurant surrounding. ‘He treats it as his privilege; he’s paying for it; so he’ll do whatever he wants.’ (Carroll, 2013)
He eats everything on the menu, ‘eating too soon, too delicately, too expensively, too greedily, and too much…He eats expensive delicacies as if they were potato chips.’ (Carroll, 2013)
However, as the film revealed by the end, Mr. Creosote is abused and embarrassed. The structure of power is completely flipped to the waiter forcing feeding Creosote ‘And finally, monsieur, a wafer-thin mint…’ (The Meaning of Life, 1983) It is insane that every action that unfolds seems natural in this comedic reconstructed environment. The result is an intentional act of murder to achieve the highest level of class and personal gain, ‘gastronomical terrorism, and, as a result, the Maitre D has installed himself as the new head of the social order.’ (Reed, 2008) This shows that food can also be a deadly consequence; it can show power, social class and the wealth. Food representation can show people’s lifestyle and personality.
Overall I have looked at a wide variety of films and with different representations of how food is used to communicate in films; from family, friends, romance, to sex and social structure. Symbolism is a great tool to use to break the language barrier, create new and diverse meaning that opinions and minds can be challenged to engage with the film. Everyone has different perspectives and it is interesting when perceptions can turn into discussions because of the media , it is what the audience perceive due to many facts from gender, age and race ect. I believe all the films have conveyed a strong and emotional response and I have been inspired to take these tools into my own work to show not tell and create an atmosphere of one of my favourite foods. A Turkish breakfast.
Arf, M. (2015). ‘Sweet Movie’ and the body as politics – PopOptiq. [online] PopOptiq. Available at: http://www.popoptiq.com/sweet-movie-body-politics/ [Accessed 15 Oct. 2016].
Bower, A. (n.d.). Reel food. 1st ed. p.33.
Carroll, N. (2013). Minerva’s night out. 1st ed. Malden, MA: Wiley-Blackwell, p.195.
Lady and the Tramp. (1955). [film] United States: Walt Disney.
Mortimer, L. (2009). Terror and joy. 1st ed. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, p.21.
Ratatouille. (2007). [film] Disney Pixar: Brad Bird, Jan Pinkava.
Pixar Talk. (n.d.). Ratatouille – Production Notes. [online] Available at: http://www.pixartalk.com/feature-films/ratatouille/ratatouille-production-notes/ [Accessed 15 Oct. 2016].
Reed, P. (2008). Looking For Meaning in “The Meaning of Life” | Noise to Signal. [online] Noisetosignal.org. Available at: http://noisetosignal.org/film/2008/02/looking-for-meaning-in-the-meaning-of-life.php.html [Accessed 15 Oct. 2016].
Sweet Movie. (1974). [film] Dušan Makavejev.
Tampopo. (1985). [film] Juzo Itami.
The Meaning of Life. (1983). [film] Terry Jones, Terry Gilliam.