The animated movie The Amazing Maurice inverts biological hierarchy in an entertaining way. Tales of anthropormophic animals such as this are not only humorous but of great epistemic value as they teach ethical and social values.
By Tripti Sharma
Is it possible for a cat to befriend a rat? Of course, everything is viable in a fantasy world. Sky Cinema’s new movie The Amazing Maurice portrays the co-existence of a bunch of rats and a cat named Maurice. The movie is an adaptation of Terry Pratchett’s book of the same name. Pratchett turned the fantasy world on its head by introducing the Discworld, which works parallel to the real world but with some slight changes: There, nature and non-human beings are embraced and moral standards are high. It can be interpreted that Discworld is an escape from the conundrums of real world. The talking animals in the movie adaptation display a similar pattern that portrays animals as rational and moral.
Maurice is a greedy ginger cat. He just wants to live a peaceful life, so he takes advantage of rats and a pipe-playing boy named Keith. Keith is believed to charm the rats with the music from his pipe – a reference to the famous Grimm fairy-tale. To sustain his prosperous life, Maurice plots to trick people with his mischievous plans. For this, Maurice teams up with Keith and his rat friends to make money. According to the intelligent cat’s plan, the piper’s role is to lure the rats to invade towns and then extort money from innocent dwellers of the town to control the pest. The plan is successful until they arrive at Bad Blitz town – a turning point for Maurice and the rats’ relationship.
Are talking animals holding a mirror to society?
Animals in literature have always played a significant role by picturing the human world. Disguised as humans, anthropomorphic animals reflect human thoughts, traits and feelings. The anthropomorphized animals in »Amazing Maurice« play tricks similar to that of humans. The animals in the movie are thus portraying contemporary society, where humans are deceiving fellow mates. Through anthropomorphized animals, children learn to understand the world’s paradigms. Today’s children, or Gen Alpha, as they are considered, need to learn about society and values. Anthropomorphic animals throughout the movie depict ethical concerns in a changing society in a variety of areas, such as unethical behaviour toward society and animals, toxic environments, discrimination and cheating.
As the Amazing Maurice says,
Maurice, the goofy cat, transmits from his actions that the greed of humans to use other living beings for money is never-ending. A study reveals that human trafficking is increasing drastically worldwide. There also seems to be no end to human exploitation of nature in sight, despite humans being aware of its consequences.
Maurice uses the rats and the piper boy to gain wealth and plans to ditch them in the near future. However, in no time, dynamics change. Maurice develops love and care for his rat friends and the piper boy. Maurice’s transformation imparts to Gen Alpha that nothing is more powerful than love and friendship in order to overcome greed for profit. At the end of the movie, anthropomorphized animals parody human characteristics and behaviour by being generous, courteous, and amiable toward other individuals. The movie overturns the traditional hierarchy of value depicting the supremacy of human. The new pyramid of morality and virtue places rats and cats at the top and humans below.
Unity in diversity
The Amazing Maurice is a movie which teaches morality and humane attitude through talking animals. By anthropomorphizing animals in the movie, humans tend to develop emotional and close connect with them. Children, as a spectator, perceive the animal world as a familiar world because they have encountered animals at some point such as in fables, as a pet at home or during a visit to the zoo. this means children might believe a talking animal more than an anthropomorphized book or a pen.
The wisdom of Maurice teaches Gen Alpha the significance of co-existence in the biological ecosystem. The movie is a call to action for humans to make the world a better place to live. It shows the power of togetherness, eco-consciousness and animal-human relationships.