Home > Film Selection > Sunday Screening #40: Wall-e

Sunday Screening #40: Wall-e

I’m doing something I told myself I’d never do for entirely selfish reasons. On Monday, November 7, my local trivia-ery is hosting Pixar trivia and I’ve been studying up all week. Obviously, this means that I will be only watching Pixar movies in the lead-up and can’t sacrifice any blocks of time for other films because victory is of the essence. Therefore, I’m selecting the only good Pixar movie that I’ve only seen once (Cars isn’t very good and I haven’t seen Cars 2). This breaks my personal rule (and the mission of Sunday Screenings) of selecting a film that I’d never seen. I can only hope you’ll all forgive me in time.

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  1. November 7, 2011 at 1:32 AM

    I feel like I don’t have much new to offer to the discussion of Wall-e. In fact, I stopped taking notes part way through so I could admire the visuals completely.

    It’s utterly amazing to me how well Pixar movies convey exposition with visuals. Clearly, this was a stepping stone to the heart-breaking prologue in Up. There’s a little talking with (live-action!) Fred Willard, but much of the tale is told by Wall-e’s travels to the trash heap. Plus, a lot of the story points are driven forward by masterful animation of Wall-e. His eyes are just incredibly expressive. And we can’t forget how much value his voice adds to his character. The sound design of Wall-e is a thing of beauty and wonder. It’s a wonder that anyone was ever unsure that a little robot cute be adorable.

    Wall-e is easily the most “adult” of all of Pixar’s films. It’s relatively challenging to kids because, while there are gags, most of them are subtle and in the vain of the classic silent comedians. The film doesn’t talk down to its audience and deals with some very heavy issues (pun slightly intended). I don’t know how anyone could watch this movie and not immediately think that we have to clean up our act regarding pollution and diet. Since I ride my bike everywhere, all I could think about was how lazy most drivers are considering most car trips are errands made close to home. It’s not a leap to see that evolving into floating chairs that carry us around without any effort on our part.

    The most surprising aspect of Wall-e to me is the camera work. They actually made it look like it was handheld photography in many cases and include some amazing camera moves and rack focuses. That’s mind-blowing! On a pure technical level, Wall-e is one of the most impressive displays of art that I’ve ever seen.

    Story-wise, the whole thing is precious and adorable and I love it. The little guy melts your heart and it’s crushing when he reverts back to his pre-personality days. There’s some schmaltzy stuff that’s a little bit much, but it’s so magnificent in presentation that I’m OK with it. There’s a hand-touching-hand motif that indicates the importance of connection. Wall-e aspires to nothing more than holding hands with Eve, thanks to Hello, Dolly. The first two obese people to notice the world around them touch hands by accident and really take notice of each other. Then the finale has the entire ship of people reaching out to each other for help. It’s all about caring for those around you and ultimately caring for the things you want most. Abandoning Earth was the easy way out and everyone’s going to have to take a personal hand in bringing it back to it’s original splendor.

  2. November 7, 2011 at 10:49 AM

    Couldn’t agree more with Nate’s comments. Pixar just has a knack for making commercial animated films intended for children that can be readily enjoyed by people of all ages, and this is especially true of WALL-E.

    The dialogue-free first half hour on Earth is wonderful. It both establishes WALL-E’s predicament through character-driven humor and honest poignancy, and soberly sets the backdrop for the larger problem of Earth’s destiny as a literal wasteland quite effectively.

    When I first saw this in theaters, I found the transition from this section to the rest of the movie a little jarring. I think I just wanted the film to be about robots or just WALL-E, without going into the human storyline on the Axiom. In retrospect, though, I realize that the movie would be missing a lot of resonance without that essential part, and also be robbed of its ultimate purpose.

    Also, like some of the best live-action science fiction films, the movie doubles as an allegory for the problems of today, and the potential problems we face if we don’t do something to clean up our act. The film presents a balanced viewpoint by showing both the good and bad sides of technology and, by extension, ourselves. I was educated after watching the film without feeling like I was preached to; instead, I felt (and was) thoroughly entertained.

    I also enjoy how WALL-E is a treasure trove of references to popular science fiction films that have come to define the genre from the 1960s through the 1980s (such as the sly voice casting choice of Sigourney Weaver as a spaceship computer). There are also plenty of references to recent technological history: WALL-E plays Pong, uses VHS tapes and iPods, and sound effects used for the robots like MacinTalk or the familiar Mac startup noise are all very fun to pick up on.

    Also, the score by Thomas Newman works really well within the context of the film and is a great listen apart from it, too.

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