Wow, so I went to see WALL·E last night – I think this film could end up becoming one of my favs!
The story is about WALL·E, a Waste Allocation Load Lifter, Earth-class. He is a wee robot whose “directive” is to clean up rubbish. His torso opens, he scoops a load of garbage in and closes up, then after a bit of intense vibrating and rattling out pops a compacted trash cube, which WALL·E carefully places on the ground. As he makes more and more garbage bricks he stacks them into a perfect square pile. When the film begins we meet WALL·E doing what he was built to do, in a dirty, dusty, deserted city, where the towering square rubbish piles fill the streets between the sky scrapers. It’s a very depressing scene, a wasteland where rubbish blows around and the sky is filled with dirt. In the midst of it all WALL·E is scooting about his work, compacting brick after garbage brick and along the way gathering little bits that he finds: a rubber duck, Rubik’s cube, an old lighter. With him his is only friend, a little cockroach that accompanies him as he works and lives with him in his home; his home being an old truck where he stores his collections, shelters from dust storms and spends the night.
All around the city, in between the mountains of rubble and trash is evidence of what happened to Earth: every aspect of life taken over by a company called ‘BuyNLarge’, the planet had become too polluted for humans to live here. The entire human race had left of a 5 year space cruise, leaving behind millions of Waste Allocation Load Lifters (Earth-class) to take care of the rubbish and make the Earth ready for their return. However by the time the film starts all the other W.A.L.L robots have broken down and WALL·E is the only one left. For hundreds of years he has been tootling around every day compacting garbage; when one of his components wears out, he simply replaces it with one taken from a destroyed old robot.
One day something new suddenly happens – which is a big deal when you’ve been doing the same thing every day , alone, for over 500 years. A giant spaceship drops off a strange new probe-droid robot into the desert of Earth. It is new, rounded, white, shiney and very mac-like. WALL·E timidly sneaks around after the new robot around, and finally makes contact. The new robot is EVE, an Extra-terrestrial Vegetation Evaluator, and it’s a she. Oooooh.
One of the craziest things about this movie was the way in which the folks at PIXAR created so much emotion in such a wee robot. I mean, WALL·E doesn’t really talk, he has no mouth or nose, barely any fingers, but you can always tell what he’s feeling. When EVE first arrives on Earth WALL·E is so shy and timid, when he accidentally runs over his friend the cockroach he’s so concerned – he feels frightened, happy, tired, amused, surprised, sad… and all with features made of rusty metal! This kid’s got spunk. He also has an old recorder as part of his torso, which he uses to record pieces of sounds. In particular, parts of his favourite film, an old VHS tape of the 1969 film Hello Dolly! He has one treasured VHS that he puts in and watches all the singing and dancing. His favourite scene is when they hold hands.
It was really interesting to see the personalities that other robots had in the film, each one really different so that you could recognise each one. Like the little compulsive cleaner robot M.O, the Microbe Obliterator. His job is to clean any stray slivers of dirt or bacteria that make onto the pristine and sterile spaceship the ‘Actiom’, with a flashing red warning of “foreign contaminent!” he zaps over and rollers it up in a rigourous way! And WALL·E’s pretty much the dirtiest thing he’s ever encountered. Whatta crack up. And you don’t realise just how old and clunky and outdated WALL·E really looks until you see him in amongst all the modern robots!
Something else that really surprised me about this film was the strong message in it. It was so unexpected, issues of responsibility, conservation, things that you wouldn’t really expect to be present in a kids film in such a serious way. It’s not presented in a way that talks down to kids, and I think that makes it really accessible for them and also to adults. In fact I wonder whether this film isn’t more suited to adults that kids… there’s no human dialogue for the first 40minutes of the film, will a kid’s attention hold for that long? I’m not sure. I certainly didn’t get bored. I thought the wee montage at the end during the credits was really well done, cute, with a message, but done in a really intelligent way.
It’s actually remarkable how not bored I was. I think the WALL·E/EVE relationship will be one of the greatest love stories in a film this year… it just pulled on ma heart strings! In addition there are funny bits, sad bits and lots of entertainment. I find E.T. quite ugly and sad, but this is one film I think I will be buying on DVD.
Also in the cinema it was exciting to see a wee PIXAR short film before the WALL·E feature, kickin’ it old school. This one is called Presto, and is about a rabbit who sabotages the magician’s show when he won’t feed him a carrot. Cute, funny, and you can see a wee clip of the film here. Interestingly, you can see a collage thesis animation clip claiming to be the inspiraton for Presto here.
You can see the trailer for WALL·E on YouTube here.
Director: Andrew Stanton
Starring: Ben Burtt, Elissa Knight, Jeff Garlin