RAT FILM is about so much more than rats
Some of the best documentaries are those whose subjects have gone all but unnoticed in mainstream society. If a documentary has made you look at its subject completely differently at the end of its showing, then it has done its job. Rat Film has done its job, incorporating themes of social class, racism, classified documents, overpopulation, and otherwise lesser known academic studies, all of which come together for a rather riveting tale revolving around the rats themselves.
When I hear the word “rat”, I think of how I wish to adopt one some day. When most people hear the word “rat”, they probably think of how “disgusting” they are. A pest to society. Regardless of where you fall on this spectrum, most of us don’t think of the profound impact they have had and continue to have on our day-to-day lives. From many of the cosmetic brands on display that were tested on the animals to the medicine you take for a headache, rats have been intertwined with our species as a whole since the dawn of time. As the films’ narrator says in a very detached voice, “Before the world became the world, it was an egg. Inside the egg was dark. The rat nibbled the egg and let the light in. And the world began.”.
Director Theo Anthony took a rather brilliant approach when doing this film that which gave off the appearance of a general topic like “rats” and the treatment of such creatures, were indicative to many much bigger themes. The city of Baltimore acts as the center of this story as we follow various modern day rat trappers/ killers/ and keepers. One study found the attempt to kill rats off to be quite asinine “Repeated observations show that when the population of an area was reduced by poisoning trapping or other depredations the birth rate increase proportionately.”- Dr. Curt P. Richter
A burden to some and a friend to others. What such study highlighted in this film (of which there were plenty) was the Behavioral Sink study. A fascinating look into various responses to over population in an otherwise utopic society. The general findings of this study included, “The population came to a halt as A-sexual, cannibalistic rats preyed on their young”. The takeaway being, ”Build better space for man so Behavioral Sink could be avoided.”
It was a gruesome thing to witness but the slow motion shots made it less painful and more enticing to observe in a “car-accident – can’t look away” type deal. The connections between rats and those who must constantly worry about them in the Baltimore (i.e. impoverished and predominantly black) neighborhoods was presented in a factual and well researched manner that proves the intent leaders in the area had when placing those people there. Even for this animal lover, this was an extremely educational film, although I did cry a few times. I do recommend that all who can stomach it, give this film a go.