When producer Alison Owen first read the script for Rat, written by 65-year-old Irish writer Wesley Burrowes, she was convinced "it had been written by some post-modernist kid out of film school". An easy mistake to make given that the script she describes as a "Kafka comedy" is about a Guinness-loving man who comes home from the pub only to turn into a rat.
"For me, the joke was never that a man turns into a rat, it was more the humorous potential of a clash of perspectives," says Burrowes. "You have an ordinary family to whom this tragic thing happens and the real comedy is in the way they receive it. They're immensely pragmatic, ordinary, decent people and suddenly this calamity occurs and they proceed to treat it as if it's just one of those domestic events that are upsetting... like woodworm in the furniture."
Director Steve Barron signed on immediately, as did Stewart Till of Universal Pictures International. Production took place in Ireland in November 1999 with Imelda Staunton and Pete Postlethwaite in the key roles of wife and husband rat. Barron and Owen took the unusual decision to use real rather than animatronic rats.
"Our film is sort of opposite to films like Stuart Little or Babe," Owen explains. "Whereas those films are all about the audience imbuing the animal with human characteristics, in Rat the characters are imbuing the rats with human personalities and the audience sees this as completely ridiculous."
Rat premiered at the Galway Film Fleadh in July to great audience acclaim.
- Type of film
- Steve Barron
- Bob Geldof.
- Steve Barron.
- Exec prod
- David Collins.
- Alison Owen, Barron.
- Wesley Burrowes.
- Brendan Galvin.
- Prod des
- Mark Geraghty.
- David Yardley.
- Main cast
- Imelda Staunton, Pete Postlethwaite, David Wilmot, Frank Kelly, Ed Byrne.
- Universal Pictures International, Jim Henson Co, Section 481.
- International dist
- Universal Pictures International/United International Pictures.