Directed By: Andrew Stanton
Starring: Ben Burtt, Elissa Knight, Jeff Garlin, Fred Willard, John Ratzenberger, Kathy Najimy and Sigourney Weaver
Screenplay By: Andrew Stanton and Jim Reardon
Original Release: June 27, 2008
I want to start today off by telling you a little bit about how I do this little Vault project. Since the article always comes out on Sunday, we typically find time on Wednesday to watch the film of the week so that I have a couple days to process the film and then to write the article. This past Wednesday, we had been very busy. It was 11:30 PM. We were exhausted and ready for bed. But wait! We hadn’t watched Wall-E yet. Knowing full well that I was exhausted and couldn’t handle watching a whole film, I turned on Wall-E just to watch the beginning. My plan was to finish the film the next day. There was only one problem with this plan. Wall-E is extremely captivating. We soon forgot how tired we were and watched the film straight through. It was that good! Not only was it funny and heartbreaking, but it was also captivating to the point where I simply didn’t want to turn it off. So what makes this film about a little robot with barely any dialogue so fantastic? Let’s take a look.
The idea for Wall-E was had many years before the film would actually start production. It started out simple. What if all the humans left Earth and forgot to turn off the last robot? He was given the monotonous job of trash clean-up and for a long time, that was all there was. Of course, the trouble is that there isn’t much of a story here. It wasn’t until writer/director Andrew Stanton discovered that the way to fix this character’s loneliness was to have him fall in love that the story really got moving. In a way, this might explain why the film seems to play out in segments. From the start, we have just Wall-E, then Wall-E and Eve, then we go to space. And then home again. It’s several parts to one whole.
The thing that really makes the film work is, obviously, Wall-E. He’s adorable, but he also has this interesting super power. He affects everything and everyone he touches. And not only does he affect them, he manages to give them a new positive outlook on the world. To one woman, he allows her to see the world around her and the pool she never knew she had for the first time. He allows a robot who does simple tasks to realize that he can wave. He gives broken robots a new purpose. He has this amazing affect on everyone in the story and it’s wonderful to see him move through the story like a pebble in a pond, creating ripples of change as he goes.
Of course, he doesn’t care about any of this. He isn’t running through a spaceship trying to change the way that others view things. The only thing that Wall-E cares about is his “Hello Dolly” themed love for the sleek Apple computer robot, Eve. This makes his actions even more meaningful, because Wall-E is bringing positivity to the world simply because he is trying to help the one he loves. Think about that. Think about would happen if every action we took in the world was out of love and what affect that would have. That’s the real heart of Wall-E.
Of course we have to talk about the message in the film that is more prevalent, which is one of what happens when we allow ourselves to not take care of the Earth or ourselves. It’s a pretty bleak idea that we could degenerate to this point, yet it’s one that is all too familiar. We already look down at our phones rather than experience the world around us. I know that I am super guilty of this. I am so busy checking tweets, instagrams and even this site that I forget to simply put the phone down and breath in the world I live in. Wall-E is a great reminder that there is beauty all around us, if we can simply take a moment to acknowledge it. It’s also a reminder that our Earth is quite fragile, yet it is worth fighting to protect and care for.
Eve is a fantastic counterpart to Wall-E. She has all the power and strength that he doesn’t have, yet she still has the same caring heart and the want to protect what is important. Watching her see the playback of Wall-E caring for her while she sleeps is incredibly moving and seeing Wall-E stare at her as if she means nothing after she risks everything to repair him is so heartbreaking. Yet seeing these characters finally be together makes it all worth it. Despite the moral implications or all the big ideas of Earth preservation, this film really is a romantic comedy at its finest and watching this amazingly lovable couple finally find each other is gratifying in every sense of the word.
Because of this film, The “Hello Dolly” soundtrack brings out all the feels. It’s captivating and moving and challenging in all the right ways. We fall for characters who can barely speak and who are the last heroes we would expect to find at the end of Earth. In a world filled with films about robots taking over or destroying everything, it’s refreshing to see a film where robots and machines are the only one’s capable of reminding us what it is to be human. And they don’t teach us these lessons by preaching or teaching. They do it simply by learning that true happiness is being able to hold the hand of someone you love.
Brilliantly written, beautifully animated and perfectly plotted, it’s hard to say anything bad about Wall-E. It moved me more this time than when I first saw it and it’s message is universal. These characters play out like an old black and white film in which we need no words to understand their motives and their affects on the space around them. Wall-E and Eve are a simple yet elegant reminder that it only takes a moment to be loved a whole life long. In their innocence, they teach us to see the world through a more pure pair of eyes. Within the garbage heaps of an Earth we’ve left behind, is a future that, if we search hard enough, we might just be able to build together.
Next Up: UP