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Ratcatcher Case Study

jclarke | Thursday July 10, 2014

Categories: GCSE, WJEC GCSE, Analysis, Film Analysis, Films & Case Studies, Non-Hollywood Films, Ratcatcher, Genres & Case Studies, Drama, Hot Entries, Key Concepts, Audience, Film Language, Representation

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Lynne Ramsay’s film Ratcatcher is a key British production of the late 1990s and is notable for its thoughtful and sensitive focus on the representation of a young person. The film explores the representation of childhood, guilt and atonement in a dysfunctional environment. Although on the paper 2, GCSE list of films, Vicky LeBeau’s analysis of the narrative and ideological function that children typically embody in movies can apply when she writes that:

“Closer to the state of infancy, an infans (literally, without language) the small child tends to be discovered at the limit of what words can be called upon to tell, or to mean – a limit that then generates the questions of how to convey the child’s experience in language, of what in that experience, of what in the image, falls outside of, and so resists, the world of words. By contrast, when it comes to the representative of the child, cinema, with its privileged access to the perceptual, its visual and aural richness, would seem to have the advantage: closer to perception, it can come closer to the child.’…?  (1)

In this resource we will explore the film Ratcatcher as a text and we will also consider some of its contexts and the reception to it upon its original release. Cinema then, has a rich tradition of representing the always resonant experiences of childhood and we might argue that whilst the tendency has been to often sentimentalise this profound experience that we all share there are a range of films that dramatise childhood in such a way as to remind us of how its various difficulties are anchored very much in the ‘real world’. As such, childhood is not necessarily a time of innocence but rather an intense moment when the ‘tabula rasa’ of a childhood is flooded and pounded by experience and the understandings that come with it. Just think of the contemporary fairytale thriller Hanna (2011) in this context....

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