Eating Otherness: The Unifying Qualities of Chocolate in Lasse Hallström’s Chocolat
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Many films that directly involve food as a plot point or major theme choose to use it as either a means of utopia or dystopia, positive or negative. Because different foods are conducive to different moods within a film, oftentimes the decision to use foods positively or negatively directly relates to the tone the filmmakers wish to establish throughout the entirety of the piece. Because these foods often represent a dichotomous relationship between characters or plots within a film, Lasse Hallström’s use of food in Chocolat (2000) is especially intriguing. Here, chocolate is used as both a positive and negative symbol in the town, creating both unity and conflict. The chocolate itself does not change within the film, only the way it is interpreted by other characters. Hallström uses chocolate as a means for establishing otherness in Vianne’s character, as well as working as a unifier amongst the townspeople. He masters this feat without altering anything but the external notions surrounding the confection, and they way in which it affects the characters’ lives.