Monday, March 28, 2011

I Was a Rat

I Was a Rat I Was a Rat!

The film version of I Was a Rat based on the novel, I Was a Rat! by Philip Pullman, recently received some press. I've never seen this movie and wonder how many of you have seen it. It had a bigger release in the UK in 2001 but is pretty much unknown here. So it was recently featured at the Charleston Film Festival with the hope that it will pick up a larger audience. It is available used on DVD so you don't have to hope for a film festival to see it. Have any of you seen it? For that matter, how many of you have read the book?

From Fairy tale intelligent, funny: Refreshingly different 'I Was a Rat' to be introduced at Charleston Film Festival by Bill Thompson:

Family films need not be pitched at a level of a witlessness, with too-cute kids, clueless parents and story lines that are pure formula.

Armed with an intelligent, humorous script based on the book by Philip Pullman, and fortified by a fine cast, Toronto-based director Laurie Lynd knew that "I Was a Rat" would engage a discerning audience.

"The story intrigued me from the start," said Lynd, who will introduce his movie this week at the second annual Charleston Film Festival, running today through Sunday at the Terrace Theatre. "As soon as I read the script, I knew I wanted to do it because the writing was so rare.

"So much family-oriented material is maudlin and does not treat an audience with respect. By contrast, 'I Was a Rat" is smart and charming, but never saccharine. It's a great, universal kids' story, like 'Cinderella" (of which the tale is a variation) or 'Pinocchio' -- light and fun but with some scary bits. There's a lovely range to it."

Starring Oscar winner Brenda Fricker and Academy Award nominees Tom Conti and Ned Beatty, "I Was a Rat" is fractured fairy tale centering on a little boy who, wandering alone, is taken in by a kindly couple. The boy is cold, damp and eager to take advantage of the offered shelter, but the adults are puzzled by his claims that he was once a rat.

Meanwhile, rumors are rampant at the local newspaper about the prince's new love, a girl who captivated everyone who glimpsed her at a palace ball.

In "Cinderella" we have the familiar story of how the Fairy Godmother turned a scullery maid into a princess and kitchen rats into footmen and pages, dispatching them to the ball. Yet few know that during the gala ball one of those pageboys ran off to play. When the clock struck 12 and Cinderella lit out for home, the pageboy was left behind, unchanged -- a lad dismayed by a dim memory of a former life.

A review summary from The New York Times:

Based on the children's book by Philip Pullman, Laurie Lynd's I Was a Rat is a feature-length fable originally made as a three-part BBC miniseries. A reworking of a popular fairy tale, the story opens with a young abandoned pageboy (Calum Worthy) taken in by a childless couple: the aging cobbler Bob (Tom Conti) and domestic worker Joan (Brenda Fricker). Nicknamed Roger, the pageboy claims that he isn't human at all but a rat, which attracts the interest of the Daily Scourge newspaper, a mad scientist, and a carnival owner named Oliver Tapscrew (Don McKellar). The search for Roger's real home is accompanied by the story of Lady Aurelia (Katie Blake) and her prince (James Millard). ~ Andrea LeVasseur, Rovi

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