I have to confess great disappointment with the PBS/Nova title Rat Attack, since I was expecting an instructional video which would help me unleash an army of vermin to do my bidding, and thus free up more time for attending to my TiVo backlog. But no, as it turns out, this hour-long educational film isn’t of any use in that fashion. Instead it’s a crazy-true nature title.
Just under every half-century, it turns out, inhabitants of the remote Indian state of Mizoram suffer a horrendous ordeal known locally as “mautam.” An indigenous species of bamboo, blanketing more than 30 percent of the district’s 8,100 square miles, blooms every 50 years, spurring an explosion in the rat population which ravenously feeds off the bamboo’s rare fruit. Capturing this phenomenon for the first time on film (and serving as an ample reminder that some things perhaps shouldn’t be, with a nod toward Joaquin Phoenix’s 8mm character), Rat Attack follows its disease-ridden subjects as they destroy crops and precipitate a regional famine. Good times! So for whom is this title required, or even desired, viewing? Not sure. It’s well stitched together, I suppose, and contains informational nuggets outside of the mainstream media norm. But sometimes ignorance is bliss. That seems especially applicable for American audiences when concerning the rare migratory-assault patterns of rats halfway around the globe.
Housed in a regular plastic Amaray case (I know, not even a collectible furry grey case!), Rat Attack comes to DVD presented in 1.78:1 widescreen format, enhanced for 16×9 televisions, with an English language stereo track that more than adequately handles the meager aural demands of this title. There’s a static scene selection menu for the program’s chapter stops, but otherwise no interactive supplemental material — just reference links to Nova’s web site. To purchase the DVD via Amazon, click here. C+ (Movie) D (Disc)