It seems the plot of Ratatouille is in the present. Colette's motorcycle seems pretty modern if not futuristic. So why are most if not all other vehicles so outdated? e.g. Old Citroën 2 CVs (a.k.a. deux chevauxs) and Citroen H vans.

Is this the image Americans have of contemporary French transportation? Perhaps inspired by Louis de Funès and WWII films?

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    I can see what looks like a Smart [but it could equally be a C1 or a 1007] & an 80/90s Citroën compact or two [C3, 206?] - so maybe there was a deal with Citroën, judging by the lack of any obvious Renault or anything else in there. Lot of old DS, 2CV… no Renault...
    – Tetsujin
    Feb 28, 2021 at 18:55
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    Because these are recognisably stylised "french" autos, Modern cars are basically "euroboxes" and somewhat indistinguishable from each other.
    – Paulie_D
    Feb 28, 2021 at 19:53
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    @Paulie_D Case in point: the fact that OP was able to identify the 2CVs and H vans. I have a feeling they wouldn't be able to identify a C3 Picasso so readily.
    – F1Krazy
    Feb 28, 2021 at 20:48

2 Answers 2


I'm not sure why you think it's set in the 'present'. There's a lot of stuff apart from the cars that suggest the setting is several decades ago. I don't think they had a specific date in mind, just vaguely past time.

The very first shot was a TV set that looked something like this,
and had a black and white picture, typical of th 1960's
enter image description here

Linguini had a fridge in his home that looked something like this, typical of the 1960's
enter image description here
. .

The restaurant had a phone that looked like this, typical of the 1950s:

enter image description here

Ego used an old manual typewriter.

Collete punched in on a mechanical timeclock.

Roller skates rather than roller blades.

Old fashioned lamp posts.

Nobody has a mobile phone.

The most modern looking object in the film was a push-button payphone.

Even DNA paternity testing was available from the 1960's. Not sure if it could be done from a single hair, but let's not quibble about such details in a film about a talking rat.

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    It is set in the present of the movie: at a certain point you can see a date on the will of Auguste Gusteau and it is either 2004 or 2007.
    – BCdotWEB
    Mar 1, 2021 at 7:21
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    Relevant screenshot of the date on the will: i.stack.imgur.com/ZqbD5.png . This date also corresponds with the vision the critic has of his youth, which is nothing like the 1910s/1920s (which would have been the time period if the movie was set in the mid-1900s).
    – BCdotWEB
    Mar 1, 2021 at 7:30
  • @BCdotWEB So where's the date in the screenshot?
    – user71192
    Apr 3, 2021 at 13:51
  • @BCdotWEB: But this answer does destroy the notion that the cars should somehow match the year the movie is set in, given the general tendency for old technology to be used in a movie that doesn't particularly focus on history or any accuracy in that department.
    – Flater
    Apr 8, 2021 at 1:52
  • @Flater This answer argues the movie is set in the 1960s. It is not, as evidenced in the movie. It is not about historical accuracy, it is about symbols and representations and memories and nostalgia.
    – BCdotWEB
    Apr 8, 2021 at 7:50

Let us not forget that we talk about a fictional movie that features animals talking with human voices. This movie world may resemble our own world, but it's clearly not identical, since we don't have talking animals in reality.

Update: Since there are so many comments about that, let me clarify that "talking" is a human action - I intentionally used this word in the above paragraph. Real animals make noise, they don't communicate at the same level of complexity. They can only express in a very limited way what they like, how the feel, etc. They certainly cannot reflect on their traits of character and most, if not all, animals don't even have an understanding of self-awareness equivalent to humans. Even though you can argue that the animals in the movie actually communicate with their own set of sounds and it's only projected to English for the audience's sake, this doesn't change the fact that in the movie the animals are smarter than in reality and display human qualities. Above all, my main point is that the movie is fictional and just as the portrayal of animals deviates from reality other aspects may deviate too.

With this in mind, it's perfectly fine that there's an unusual combination of gadgets as compared to our world. The fictional movie world is just different in some points and very similar in other aspects. Why not? On a whole, cinema has always been about escapism from the real world - showing us dream worlds - and they are still fulfilling this role today.

The concrete reasons why they prefer certain objects over others can be as simple as aesthetics and emphasis on certain craftsmanship. Omitting certain technologies, that would have been there was it our world, can be seen as a form of criticism. Showing objects prominently could also be seen as an hommage to something. But I do not see any deeper meaning in a film like Ratatouille beyond these points and I don't think detailed comparisons to when and where gadgets appeared and disappeared in our world are helpful here.

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    The animals only talk among themselves. To the humans they sound only like regular animal noises.
    – OrangeDog
    Mar 3, 2021 at 10:26
  • @OrangeDog Sure. I didn't say that they would talk to humans. But they talk with a human voice. Animals have a different biology that makes it impossible to develop such a nuanced, detailed, rich language as humans have. Hence that's a significant deviation from reality. Pretending that animals can communicate amongst themselves similar to humans while their voices are magically converted to simpler animal noises with inherently less information is just pure fantasy.
    – Matt
    Mar 3, 2021 at 12:06
  • It's the usual movie trick where everybody, from inhabitants of distant planets to nazi officers speak English. You could make the animals make animal noises and be sub texted, but I don't think the audience would appreciate that.
    – Lenne
    Mar 3, 2021 at 13:43
  • @Lenne Yes and no. Anyway, Ratatouille makes the animals smarter than they are in reality. Don't forget my main argument is that Ratatouille is a fictional movie and not a documentary and that's a hard fact which I won't discuss further. Please keep in mind that comments are not meant to start side-topic discussions. Use the chat instead.
    – Matt
    Mar 3, 2021 at 14:46
  • The animals are in fact speaking with their own animal sounds; the English language is just for us to understand their interactions. If they can speak in English, why doesn't the mouse speak with Linguini the same way? Why does he just shake his head while interacting with Linguini? FMI, watch Tarzan 1999 animated movie and Garfield franchise. Mar 3, 2021 at 14:55

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