Written by Pollo Misterioso
Pixar films have a way of making the familiar, unfamiliar; creating unknown worlds around the ordinary. With Toy Story we entered into the world of the children’s playroom, with Finding Nemo we journeyed underwater where marine life lives like humans but without them, and in A Bug’s Life where the smallest of insects can do the greatest things. Within these beautifully animated worlds, there are always lovable characters that are driven by instinct and simple desires, forming an intricate story that relies on the basics of storytelling and WALL·E is no different, presenting our world as we have never seen it -- hundreds of years into the future, where robots have more humane instincts than us and we can no longer inhabit Earth because of pollution.
WALL·E stands for Waste Allocation Load Lifter Earth class -- and his job is to clean up Earth. He is one of the last robots on Earth compacting the trash that has overrun the planet and made humans live on cruise ships in space. Already a very sentimental and caring robot, he finds new inspiration when EVE comes to Earth. She is a robot designed to find life on Earth, making it habitable again. When WALL·E shows her a plant, she shuts down to be picked up and taken to space—where WALL·E ends up following her. EVE’s directive is to deliver the plant, but this would cause the ship to return to Earth and the robots are under different orders.
It is here on the ship that we are given a glimpse of life hundreds of years in the future, when humans are dependent upon robots and technology. The main narrative follows the two robots on the ship, but weaved around it are clear criticisms of our culture as we see what life is like in the future. Everything to eat comes in a cup, nobody walks anymore as they are hover-crafted around -- making the body turn into a giant jellybean, and all communication occurs on a screen in front of you. In a world where technology is cutting more corners, these images hover over you causing you to really think about our own lives. But this movie never alienates or offends the viewer, something that only Disney/Pixar films are able to get away with.
Within this world WALL·E reminds us of the simpler things, even how important handholding can be. His directive changes after he has met EVE, following and protecting her because she gives him hope for love. One of the most beautiful and classic scenes takes place between WALL·E and EVE as they dance in space. They take something familiar and very human and transfer it between machines that are more life-like than people. It is here that they share a spark -- literally touching in a way that connects them by an electrical charge. What looks to be our equivalent to a kiss, it is represented as a deeper connection between two things. Classic.
The story aside, this film is visually incredible. The detail and perspective just in the beginning of the film gives a haunting and desolate look at our Earth. This little machine is the only form of life that maneuvers through the waste (of course he does have another companion who is a cockroach). The first third of the film is without dialogue, relying solely on images and sounds created by our character, developing WALL·E through his actions and movements. Never removing himself from the world created around him, everything is new to us, the way that it is new to WALL·E. His collection of trinkets and “trash” fascinate and amuse him, making his job worth while everyday. It’s funny when he has no idea where to place the spork he has taken home; it is not a fork, not a spoon.
And that is what this film is about: discovery. WALL·E’s understanding of “love” comes from the videotape Hello, Dolly and holding hands—but he soon learns that it takes a lot to get there and EVE also learns that “that is all that love is about.” WALL·E is a simple love story that is pleasing in everyway. But being that Pixar is so crafty, there are deeper and more universal themes that run throughout. Every little detail makes this film fun to watch again and again. So let’s learn something from these robots and enjoy the simpler things.
For those that loved this film, I suggest getting the DVD because the extras are absolutely wonderful. In the 3-disc Special Edition it comes with the film, a bonus disc with more special features and a digital copy that can be uploaded to computers and portable devices. The Bonus features on the first disc are some of my favorite. They include a short film called “BURN·E” which follows the robot BURN·E after he gets locked out of the ship. His story aligns with the narrative in the original film, expanding on what else is going on in the ship. “Presto” is the short film that played before WALL·E in theaters and is one of my favorite Pixar shorts. There are four other featurettes on this disk, including deleted scenes, a tour of the universe, and audio commentary. What I found most interesting was the “Animation Sound Design: Building Worlds from the Sound Up.” This explains the intense work that went into making this film. It is really fascinating for anyone that is interested in how they make sounds for films and cartoons.
The second disc is separated for families and for film lovers. There are additional deleted scenes and a section on Buy n Large shorts, giving a background story on how it began. The “Behind the Scenes” feature has six different shorts that explain different parts of the movie, including the score and WALL·E and EVE. One of the best features on this disk is an entire second documentary film called The Pixar Story which shows the beginning of Pixar and its collaboration with Disney. This is a very informative and fun documentary to watch for any Disney fan. For families, the fun featurettes include “Bot Files” which introduce all of the robots, “Lots of Bots” which is a storybook read-along for kids, and my favorite “WALL·E’s Treasures and Trinkets” which are a collection of shorts with WALL·E and all of his gadgets -- it is very funny and worth watching.