[Warning: Post contains spoilers.]
I went to see WALL*E last week, and despite hearing numerous “You’re going to love it!” from different folks I was still amazed by the movie. Pixar yet again blew my mind.
You can read about the plot of the story here, so I won’t go into too much detail about that. The movie touched me for several reasons. One is the portrayal of one-way love from WALL*E to EVE. When she shuts down on earth due to completion of her probe for life on earth, WALL*E is a) not certain of whether EVE is even interested in him, although he might not have been sophisticated enough to consider the possibilities, and b) gives up his time, his mission, etc., to protect her. It sounds simple (maybe also simplistic), but one-way love is simple. WALL*E, though sentient, is most likely not sophisticated enough to evaluate whether his gestures would ever be reciprocated. All he knows is that he likes EVE and wants to protect her. This picture is a beautiful and deeply resonant picture of one way love; when portrayed in ways children can understand, it doesn’t seem to have to “make sense” in grown-up terms – it’s just the way it is.
Another part of the story I loved is how EVE realizes WALL*E’s love for her. She becomes aware of what he was doing for her via the video that recorded WALL*E’s protective gestures towards her while she was shut down and inactive on earth, and by having observed his persistence in ensuring the safety of the little plant he gave to her – the very reason that her directive was complete. Not fully realizing what had happened, she begins to reciprocate. She doesn’t really quite understand what’s going on either; WALL*E is nowhere as sophisticated as she is as a robot, and what’s really on her mind is her directive (to deliver the little plant to where it belongs). But somehow, almost pre-consciously, she begins to grasp what love is, and responds in a remarkable way. Love inspires a response from EVE, even before she’s really aware of it, and that response is the willingness to give up the things that’s most important to her: her mission.
The third thing I really loved about the film is how WALL*E has a, well, messianic quality. Everything that he touches becomes better. He shows another robot how to wave. Because of WALL*E, two humans actually begin to communicate with each other. He frees a bunch of broken, malfunctioning (though benign) robots and they follow him – and they help him. Finally, out of love for EVE, WALL*E even sacrifices himself in order to ensure the success of her directive, allowing himself to be crushed by the robots who could not stop following previously given orders. WALL*E changes things and shake up the dominant paradigm in, yes, an almost Christ-like way.
Last, but not least, THE ANIMATION IS INCREDIBLE! I loved the minimalist dialogue (mostly robotic sounds from the robots), and the sequence in space was absolutely stunning. WALL*E reminds me a little of ET, probably because of the big eyes and long neck but he looks REAL. Here’s a little blurb from the Wikipedia article about the creation of WALL*E:
After directing Finding Nemo, [Andrew] Stanton felt they “had really achieved the physics of believing you were really under water, so I said ‘Hey, let’s do that with air’. Let’s fix our lenses, let’s get the depth of field looking exactly how anamorphic lenses work and do all these tricks that make us have the same kind of dimensionality that we got on Nemo with an object out in the air and on the ground'”. Producer Jim Morris added that the film was animated so that it would feel “as if there really was a cameraman”. Dennis Muren was hired to advise Pixar on replicating science fiction films from the 1960s and 1970s, including elements such as 70 mm frames, barrel distortion and lens flare.”
Wall-E is up there along with the Chronicles of Riddick as one of my favourite movies of all time.